About Peter Davies
I was born in Cardiff, South Wales, United Kingdom, and emigrated to the United State in 1946. I received my B.A. in English literature from Northern Illinois University in 1959, my M.A. in English Renaissance Theatre and Poetry from University of Illinois in 1961, and my Ph.D in Theatre History from Yale University in 1967. I spent many years teaching at such institutions as the University of Illinois, the American College, Izmir, Turkey, Loyola College of the University of Montreal, Tulane University and Simon's Rock College (now a campus of Bard College).
How I Became Involved in Kilims
In 1961 I bought my first flatweaving and two storage bags in the rug bazaar in Kayseri, Turkey, thus beginning an avocation that would ultimately turn into another vocation. I was inspired to do so after seeing kilims in the apartments of career missionary doctors and teachers in Turkey. Kilims were virtually unknown to me as well as most Westerners at that time.
In 1976, I founded Turkana, which recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary. Actually beginning in 1970, I unofficially began my business by returning to Turkey summers and to subsidize these trips (a strain on an academic's salary) I began buying kilims and rugs and selling them to family and friends. My growing interest in kilims coincided with their sudden popularity in the U.S. and the gallery soon became competitive with my academic and theatrical pursuits. From 1976 on, I traveled annually to Turkey on buying expeditions, as well as to Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Greece and Pakistan, and I staged exhibitions and presented lectures up and down the eastern seaboard. In 1977, I moved my gallery from the Berkshires to its present location in the Wall Street area of Manhattan.
By a strange series of events, I found myself pioneering a new area of weaving as kilims moved from being an unknown artefact to being a hot decorative item, to being a collectible tribal artefact. Gradually I specialized more and more in antique Anatolian kilims while still carrying outstanding examples of flatweavings from other weaving regions. I have built several large corporate collections including one for the New York Review of Books (now in private hands: the Anadolu Collection) and Liberty Life of Greenville, South Carolina (The Liberty Textile Collection). In addition, I supplied kilims, costumes, tent and storage bag artefacts for the permanent Asian Peoples exhibition at New York's Museum of Natural History. I have also helped to build numerous private collections, as well as supplying leading architects and designers with weavings for their projects.
Ultimately, the knowledge I accumulated through first-hand experience and through researching in the textile studies field led to the publication of my book, The Tribal Eye: Antique Kilims of Anatolia by Rizzoli International Publications in 1993. And to an expansion and updating edition entitled Antique Kilims of Anatolia published by Norton Professional Books in 2000.
Selected Recent Weaving Exhibitions and Lectures on Kilim Weavings:
1978-94 Exhibitions and lectures annually at Turkana Gallery's locations in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York
October 14, 1993- Lecture: Dudley House Lecture Series, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
March 9, 1994 Lecture Joint Meeting, New York Rug Society & Haci Baba Society
October 5, 1994 Lecture: Greenwich Art Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut
March through April 5, 1994: "Understanding the Tribal Eye" a series of 6 lectures for The Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design,Museum of the Smithsonian Inst., N.Y.,N.Y.
September ll, l995 Lecture "The Tribal Eye" Cleveland Rug Society. Cleveland, Ohio.
January 23, 1996- Lecture "Orientalism: Rugs in Orientalist Paintings" Dahesh Museum, New York, New York.; repeated at Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, June 1997
May 16, 1996-Exhibtion: "Marketplace: A dual Exhibition of Kilims and Monotypes by Matt Phillips" Turkana Gallery, N.Y.
February 22 to April 27, 1997 Exhibition & Lecture "The Tribal Eye: Antique Kilims of Anatolia" The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Ct.
American Museum of Natural History - Hall of Asian Peoples (a permanent exhibition). Consultant to the curator, Walter Fairservis, for Middle Eastern kilims, costumes and artefacts, 1976-1978
Liberty Life Textile Collection, Greenville, South Carolina - consultant for Middle Eastern textiles, pre-Columbian textiles, African textiles
Anadolu Collection, New York Review of Books, Inc., New York, New York - consultant for collection of Anatolian kilims, the Anadolu Collection
Anatolian kilim exhibition, Sarah Lawrence Art Museum, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, 1986, consultant and lender of some artifacts