The New Bedford Whaling Museum celebrates the work of the master knot tyer, maritime artist, historian, and author Clifford W. Ashley in a monumental exhibition. The exhibition includes the premiere of a recent gift to the Museum of Ashley’s private knot collection with interpretative material from the Museum’s private collection as well as the artist’s paintings, prints, and works by other knot tyers and artists inspired by his work.
In addition, the exhibition includes a broad range of fascinating objects with which to interpret the material drawn from the NBWM permanent collections, partner institutions, and private collections, including “Turk’s Head” knotted scrimshaw canes, sailcloth, sailmaker and knot tying tools, examples of various fibers, Victorian braided mourning hair wreaths and jewelry, portraits, textiles, knots collected worldwide by whalers and merchants, rare books on rigging and knot tying used shipboard, decorative knots, paintings, prints, and original book illustrations that predate and postdate Ashley. Videos of knot tying, rope making, and interactives on the mathematics of knots are on view, and rope making machines and other tools are on hand for visitors to explore. The exhibition also includes modern works in various media that speak to a contemporary understanding and meaning of knots, including macro views of rope in large graphite works on paper and static ceramic sculptures of rope and sailcloth.