This exhibition presents contemporary textile artworks by 17 South Asian artists and artisans from the UK, USA, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh whose concepts and materials relate to the environment, economies or societies and are displayed throughout the house, itself built for a textile mill owner at the height of Britain’s colonial expansion in India. The works have been thoughtfully placed throughout the galleries; amongst industrial objects, problematic curiosities from around the world and zoological specimens, to provoke thinking about the museum collection.
The Indian subcontinent is no stranger to textile sustainability; practiced for millennia by communities across its vast and varied geography, natural fibres such as cotton, jute, silk, and wool were skillfully nurtured and transformed into yarn. The holistic production of weaving and dyeing cloth was done in harmony with the rhythms of the seasons and carried a language of its own. Although these practices are disappearing, they continue in certain pockets across the land and their creations of exquisite, rich colours and patterns are still celebrated and sought after throughout the world.
Through the growing demands of colonial trade, consumption and industrialization came the tragic consequences of appropriation and exploitation which disrupted this delicate balance. Natural habitats, crops, and communities deteriorated as their way of life was shattered and left in a fragile state. Twentieth century pressures, not least violent conflicts in the aftermath of the British Empire, forced people to leave their villages and seek work elsewhere, with many immigrating to the mill towns of East Lancashire and beyond. Today several global brands rely on outsourced labour in countries across South Asia, such as Bangladesh and India.
These complex histories are embedded in the artworks in this exhibition. The ripple effect of displacement continues. When we buy any type of cloth we are all entangled in these routes of production and consumption. We are all fragments of our time.
With special thanks to Anant Art, Art Musings, Chemould CoLab, Emami Art,
Experimenter, Frestonian Gallery, Jhaveri Contemporary, Montalvo Arts Center,
Shrujan Living and Learning Design Centre, TARQ.
The following artists: will be showing in this exhibition: Madi Acharya-Baskerville, Robina Akhter Ullah, Bhasha Chakrabarti, Sayan Chanda, Ujjal Dey, Smriti Dixit, Melissa Joseph, Rehana Mangi, Dhara Mehrotra, Boshudhara Mukherjee, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Kajal Nisha Patel, Liaqat Rasul, Gurjeet Singh, Sagarika Sundaram, Sibaprasad Karchaudhuri and Shrujan Living and Learning Design Centre.
Read more about their work and practice here in our digital handout.
See here for information on venue accessibility and facilities.