Tales through textiles

Floorspread_painted_and_dyed_cotton_Coromandel_Coast_ca 1630 Victoria and Albert Museum

Floorspread painted and dyed cotton Coromandel Coast ca 1630 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Colour and texture epitomise India’s culture and every day life, and the country’s handmade fabrics represent a vibrant part of this, using embroidery and other techniques to share histories and myths, as well as the heritage of the sub-continents crafts people, plant-life, royalty and deities. It’s all revealed in a vivid exhibition running at the Victoria and Albert Museum titled The Fabric of India.

Wallhanging_detail © Victoria and Albert Museum

Wallhanging detail © Victoria and Albert Museum

From religious expression through sacred cloths to the sumptuous swathes associated with royalty, the history of India is bound in with exquisite textiles still being produced using traditional methods today, even as modern designers adapt the expertise of their ancestors to create vibrant new interpretations through fashion and art.

Ajrakh-inspired jacket by Rajesh Pratap Singh © Victoria and Albert Museum

Ajrakh-inspired jacket by Rajesh Pratap Singh © Victoria and Albert Museum

It’s a visually delectable exhibition with more than 200 objects on show, ranging from heirloom fabrics and dress to and cutting-edge fashion, many of which in public for the first time.

Wallhanging detail ca 1700 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Wallhanging detail ca 1700 © Victoria and Albert Museum

The items whisper of India’s rich natural resources and varied geographical regions and climates, as well as the individual cultivators, weavers, dyers, printers and embroiderers who skillfully make use of them. Look out for the golden silks of Assam, the fine cottons of Bengal, or the red dyes of southeast India, as well as regionally distinctive weaves, prints and embroideries.

The Fabric of India will be at the V&A until 10 January 2016. Find details and book tickets at www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/event/5957/the-fabric-of-india.

A Lad Insane

Aladdin Sane cr Brian DuffyOccasional I mishear things in such a way that they send me off on a whole new creative tangent, and it seems I’m not alone.

Apparently, when Brian Duffy was photographing David Bowie for the cover of his new album in1973, he asked Bowie what the album was to be called. Bowie replied “A Lad Insane”; Duffy misunderstood and Aladdin Sane was born.

The original Aladdin Sane Dye Transfer print will be on show as part of the V&A’s ‘David Bowie Is‘ exhibition, which runs from 23 March to 11 August 2013. Well worth a visit!

Aladdin Sane1 cr Brian Duffy