The Fabric of India

Case studies, Craft, Handloom, Art, Innovation, Contemporization, Museums, Collections

The Fabric of India: Contemporary craft practices and the role of the museum

Patel, Divia

KEYWORDS YOUR VIEWS
Issue #002, Winter, 2019                                                                            ISSN: 2581- 9410 1 Introduction In this essay The Fabric of India exhibition held at the V&A between 3 October 2015 to 10 January 2016, is presented as a case study for examining the role of the museum with respect to contemporary craft practices. The exhibition explored the story of handmade textiles from India by showcasing some 200 objects, the earliest of which dated to 300 CE and the most recent to 2015. The exhibition sought to situate textiles at the heart of India’s culture and economy and to explore their impact around the globe, historically and presently. It celebrated the human skill and ingenuity which has driven creative and technical innovation in textiles over millennia. The exhibition was co-curated by Rosemary Crill (Senior Curator, V&A, now retired) and this author. (fig 1) Highlighting contemporary practice was intrinsic to the ambition of the exhibition and this was made explicit in the introduction whereby a large 17th century Mughal floor spread hand-painted and dyed with a classic poppy design formed a dramatic backdrop to two contemporary fashion outfits. One of these was the ‘Hounds tooth’ sari designed by Abraham & Thakore and handwoven in the ikat technique by craftsmen in the workshop of Shri Govardhana from Puttapaka in Telangana in 2...
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