Fabric of India …or the Emperor’s New Clothes?

European fabric design produced in India

The Fabric of India at the Victoria & Albert Museum is  a dynamic and marvelous exhibition,  celebrating a wide and rich variety of Indian textiles.

Wealth, power, love and religious devotion are expressed through textiles … but the story is incomplete.

Hours and days of hand weaving, embroidery and hand processes, both individual and collective have been imbued in cloth.

found abandoned in New York on a side walk

found abandoned in New York on a side walk

fine drawing in running stitch

fine drawing in running stitch

 

The story of endeavour is much deeper than the stuff of fabric. Powerful symbolism unfolds through  the cloth and the garments -  the  fabrics embody new meaning and beliefs.

India’s exported fabrics and craftsmanship had great influence throughout the western world later to be in jeopardy by industrialisation.

embroidered Indian fabric

embroidered Indian fabric

Indeed Gandhi helped India to develop and strengthen its national identity in pursuit of independence.

The staging is contemplative and calm displaying busy, intricate cloth, floating in a spiritual soundscape created by sound artist Jason Singh.

IMG_4472

Enjoyable for us, caught up in the dream, bathing in these fantastical cloths, reams of yummy textiles spinning yarns … but  this exhibition fails to address or confront the persistent problem of  sweat shop culture, child exploitation and unmonitored working conditions in many Indian mills and factories.

design based on Escher's art

design based on Escher's art

We have a moral responsibility to examine, question and contextualise production process and economics.

THE FABRIC OF INDIA at the V&A from 4/10/2015

Mixed media designer and artist, Tilby is an experienced production set and costume designer for film, tv, film theatre and opera.