Travels in Textiles


Sunday, 9 October 2011

A change in scene and season...

This blog post is written with a sigh of relief yet with a strange sense of loss and disorientation after having just handed in my MA thesis.

I am awaiting a viva for which I'm partly apprehensive about and partly looking forward to, being that I have admiration for both my examiners, one as a textile historian and the other as a textile practitioner. I hope to post the thesis soon on this blog.

Meanwhile, I will be presenting aspects of the research at the TRIP (Textiles Research in Practice) symposium at Loughborough University in November. My paper will focus on how the ancient craft of block printing using hand skills and natural dyes is continuing today, having survived the onslaught of technology and cheaper mass-production methods, and chemical dyes. A particular focus will also be on the transmission of skills and knowledge and the recent development of design education and how this is allowing craftspeople to be their own designer, marketer and producer, developing new innovations within a rich cultural living tradition. 

Handicraft in India has been associated with struggle and marginalisation during the last century. But with a resurging interest in quality products made with care and cultural meaning in a country with a burgeoning economy and middle class to support its creative industries, Indian handicrafts and artisans have a bright future.

On another note, I didn't manage to make it to much of the Didsbury Arts Festival being immersed in the stress and madness of submitting my thesis. However, I did manage to fit in time to install an installation of kid's art work in the window of Pixie and helping to set up the Festival gallery. See pictures on Flikr

Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I have finally be able to get out and see stuff. I finished the thesis just in time for the opening of the Asia Triennial Festival in Manchester. I have continuously raved about Shisha's work and despite them bearing the brunt of the government's cuts, they still continue to do their outstanding work, of which ATM is a prime example.

Pakistani artist Rashid Rana's exhibition at The Cornerhouse is contemporary, intense and intriguing and embeds layers of meaning. Rana's work alternates between two and three dimensions and uses thousands of tiny photographs to create huge photomontages, some two dimensional and some three dimensional architectural structures, impressive from afar but urging the viewer to look closer into its depths where there are hidden meanings and unexpected scenes.

For example, one piece coloured with reds and greys resembling a pixelated version of a classic Persian rug from afar, when viewed closely exposes a multitude of gruesome images of animals being slaughtered. 

I am yet to visit many more of the exhibitions and events the ATM has on offer...

Meanwhile, I just caught the Rogue Artist Studios opening weekend on Saturday, regretting being so late as to only catch 45 minutes of a great selection of work. 

I was particularly inspired by the work of Liz West because of her use of colour and light combined:

The above image is a collection of everyday objects in a box surrounded by mirrors and a green light. Best seen in real life for its striking and sense inducing effects.

The below images are of  Michelle Pouncey's work. Working across a range of disciplines,  and seemingly multi-talented as her website shows, for the open studios event she displayed simple, texturally interesting pieces layering print pattern and shape.

Finally, an image of the last of the warmth and sun of the Indian summer creating beautiful views of light shining on the colours Autumn.

Here sits a proud Karam having made it to the top of the hill. (as did I of course, being the photographer!)