The Victoria &Albert, Ukâ€™s India Festival will be the first major exhibition to explore the 3rd to 21st century dynamic and multifaceted world of handmade textiles from India. The exhibition offers an introduction to the raw materials and processes of making cloth by hand. Displays of the basic fibres of silk, cotton and wool illustrate the importance of Indiaâ€™s natural resources to its textile-making traditions.
Divia Patel, co-curator of the exhibition said that this was a tremendous task and they looked at it from a historic perspective as well as making it relevant today. There is a vague chronology to give it a sense of history but the broad divisions reflect the technical mastery and creativity of Indian textiles.
Two-thirdâ€™s of the exhibits are from the V&Aâ€™s own collections and the remaining have been borrowed by museums and private collections in India, the US and France.
The opening section shows fabrics dyed with natural materials such as pomegranate and indigo and the complex techniques of block printing, weaving and embroidery across the ages, together creating a visual compendium of Indiaâ€™s astonishingly diverse array of fabrics.
Highlights range from muslin embroidered with glittering green beetle wings, to a vast wall hanging appliqued with designs of elephants and geometrical patterns, to a boyâ€™s jacket densely embroidered with brightly coloured silk thread and mirrors.
Wealth, power and religious devotion are all expressed through textiles, and the exhibition examines how fabrics were used in courtly and spiritual life.
Fabrics created for temples and shrines vary widely in imagery and techniques, depending on the religions context, level of patronage and region of production.
V&Aâ€™s world-renowned collection together with masterpieces from international partners and leading designers, the exhibition will feature over 200 objects, many on display for the first time. Visitors can expect a stunning range of historic dress, heirloom fabrics, and cutting-edge fashion.
The astonishing skills and variety evident in Indiaâ€™s incomparably rich textile tradition will surprise and inform even those with prior knowledge of the subject, and is sure to delight visitors.
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