November 2015. A weekend trip to London to see Medea at the Almeida in Islington and visit the India Textiles exhibition at the V&A.
A visit to the Fabric of India show at the Victoria & Albert Museum, quite large crowds but not packed for this illuminating display. There was a lot of fabric on display and the explanations to accompany these riches were through without being dull. A story was told of the origins – as far as is known – of weaving, dyeing and printing on fabric from the 3rd century to the present. There was an interest in the artisan, the producers, and techniques used. Limited use of film and video was effective.
The display spanned several rooms and tried to cover the full range of textile production, although perhaps more could have been shown of modern production techniques and scale – clothing over a billion people, many of them city dwellers, demands rather more than hand-loom weaving and dyeing.
Gopika Nath, kantha –
The V&A magazine (Autumn/Winter) discusses in more detail the current state of artisan production and attempts by the Indian government to protect handloom production. I was impressed by the range of texties on display; since textiles are inherently fragile it is always exciting to see examples dating back hundreds or even thousands of years. I was particularly interested in the print techniques, wood block printing being well displayed.
‘”Torn by hand, scoured with soda ash, treated with a solution of camel dung, cured in a bath of ground myrobalan nuts and washed and thrashed repeatedly”, textile block printing survives and thrives in the face of industrialisation. ‘ V&A Magazine No.38, Autumn/Winter 2015.
I particularly enjoyed the modern work of Gopika Nath, whose work is often heavily stitched and textured.