Exhibition in UK to celebrate history and culture of Indian block printing

The contemporary use of one of India’s most historic crafts will form the basis of an art exhibition at the Bonington Gallery.

 Imprints of Culture, from 26 February to 24 March, will explore how block printed textiles became part of the very fabric of India’s history, culture and visual identity.

Exhibits from three regions – western India (Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh), northern Indian (Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) and south-east India (Andhra Pradesh) – will go on show and include traditional designs and innovations.

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Eiluned Edwards, of the university’s School of Art & Design, in collaboration with block printers and block makers in India, and Delhi-based fashion designer Aneeth Arora of Péro.

It is supported by the British Academy (International Partnership and Mobility Scheme, 2014-17) while the research underpinning it was funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2012-14).

Dr Edwards, who has been researching the material culture of India for 25 years, said: “This exhibition will not only be a display of incredible craftsmanship and skill, but it will allow people to experience a significant aspect of India’s cultural heritage.

“Until recently block prints were key components of caste dress, reflecting regional affiliation, occupational and religious identity, social and even economic status. They embody centuries of trade, conquest and colonisation, technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Eco-friendly block prints dyed with natural colours have found a niche in the global fashion industry. Designers in India and other countries are using them for garments and accessories on the catwalk as well as on the high street. They have become part of the ‘slow clothes’ movement which values sustainable production and holds craftsmanship in high esteem.”

The exhibition is free admission and open to members of the public between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday. It will also be open on Saturday 19 March from 10am to 4pm.

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