Travels in Textiles


Friday, 27 May 2011

London calling

Have just returned from an inspiring trip to London. It was just what I needed, as a break away from the desk and the dizzying computer screen. A highlight of the trip was an exhibition at the V&A museum of childhood, and an exhibition it was holding curated by A Fine Line and The Harley Gallery.

'A sense of place' was a collection of works by several artists taking part in an exchange between the UK, India and Bangladesh. Their work reflected upon and was inspired by the new place in which they found themselves situated, a place very different from where they usually work. The artists were textile designer Lokesh Ghai (teacher at Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya in Kutch, India), rickshaw painter Tapan Das, paper artist Thurle Wright, metal artist Steven Follen and fine artist Tarun Ghosh

 This is Lokesh Ghai's work inspired by textiles at the V&A museum and the 19th century ballad Fair Charlotte. The ballad is a tragic, cautionary tale of a vein young women who sets out one cold, winter new year's eve with her lover to a ball. Despite the warnings and advice of her mother Charlotte discards blankets to wrap herself in for the journey in a sleigh, and travels only in a silk dress, bonnet and gloves, not daring to be seen in riding in 'blankets muffled up'. Charlotte gets colder and colder on the journey, and to her lover's and parents' dismay, before they reach the ball Charlotte freezes to death.

Lokesh has created garments that would suitably and stylishly keep Charlotte warm and prevent her untimely death.

 I loved Lokesh's treatment of beautifully printed and plain, Indian and English fabrics, their layering and stitching. Charlotte could not have refused such beautiful coats to compliment her ball gown and keep her warm

 Tapan Das is from a family of rickshaw painters from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The amazing artwork adorning these great methods of transport are a feast for the eyes. I think this country could do with some of Tapan Das's decorating to brighten up the drab greyness that we are surrounded by!

 While Tapan Das had an artist residency in Nottinghamshire and London, Thurle Wright travelled over to Dhaka in Bangladesh and Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The result was her unique paper cut works of art. She had collected images and texts out of all sorts of books and cut and sculpted the pieces combining with stitched and stuck objects and sequins to create intensely intricate masterpieces clearly inspired by India and Bangladesh's rich culture and arts.

The above detail of one of Wright's pieces reminded me both of an ear adorned with earrings, and the traditional mirrored embroideries of Gujarat.


Steven Follen who also travelled to Dhaka and Ahmedabad, created sculptural metal pieces, clearly inspired by the bright floral garlands that adorn the markets, streets and people all over India.


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