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‘The Fabric of India’, Cincinnati Art Museum, closing 6 January 2019

‘The Fabric of India’, co-curated by Rosemary Crill, is on show at Cincinnati Art Museum until 6 January 2019. The US show is based on the 2015-2016 Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition which featured two-hundred handmade Indian textiles from the fifteenth century to today. The following is an extract from the HALI V&A exhibition review:

Installation view, 'The Fabric of India', Cincinnati Art Museum

Installation view, ‘The Fabric of India’, Cincinnati Art Museum

‘Artfully conceived, the show leads viewers through a series of six distinct sections accompanied by a relaxing and unobtrusive soundscape, especially composed for the space by Jason Singh. Several impressive large-scale textiles have been displayed as they were made to be used, including a set of chintz bed-hangings from the Coromandel Coast, an appliqué wall hanging found abandoned on the streets of New York in the 1990s and the interior panels of Tipu Sultan’s 16th-century tent – usually on partial show at Powys Castle, Wales.

Installation view, 'The Fabric of India', Cincinnati Art Museum

Installation view, ‘The Fabric of India’, Cincinnati Art Museum

Viewers are introduced to the raw materials that have contributed to India’s long history of producing textiles in high demand. The stylistic nuances arising out of complex global trade networks are explored, the splendour of court workshops is celebrated to great effect, the sacred attribution to Indian textiles by multiple faiths is represented, and the political story of khadi cloth and industrialisation tops off the antique sections before contemporary Indian fibre art and fashion are found in the last two rooms.’

Man's Jacket, silk (satin weave) with metal-wrapped thread brocading, Gujarat, prob. Ahmedabad or Surat, 1852-4, 'The Fabric of India', Cincinnati Art Museum

Man’s Jacket, silk (satin weave) with metal-wrapped thread brocading, Gujarat, prob. Ahmedabad or Surat, 1852-4, ‘The Fabric of India’, Cincinnati Art Museum

Gujarati Embroidery, cotton embroidered with silk, Gujarat, 1680-1700, 'The Fabric of India', Cincinnati Art Museum

Gujarati Embroidery, cotton embroidered with silk, Gujarat, 1680-1700, ‘The Fabric of India’, Cincinnati Art Museum

Today in Cincinnati, the finest examples from the V&A’s collection together with masterpieces from international partners, leading fashion and textile designers and additions from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection are being showcased in this exhibition of over 170 handmade objects. From historic dress to heirloom fabrics, handmade textiles are embedded in India’s identity and the history of these fabrics dates back some 6,000 years. Long before Europeans landed on the shores of the subcontinent, Indians were using indigenous resources to create colourful textiles desired around the world. Handwoven, printed, dyed and embellished fabrics were so central to the subcontinent’s character that in ancient Greece and Babylon the very name ‘India’ was shorthand for ‘cotton’. A lively textile and fashion industry still thrives in India today. HALI 185 features Rosemary Crill’s account of the craftsmanship and regional variety demonstrated in ‘The Fabric of India’ at the V&A.

Rosemary Crill is leading the HALI Tour to India with Steven Cohen as guest lecturer, 9-22 February 2019. View the brochure.

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