‘The Fabric of India’ is a stunning exhibition currently on at the V&A in London. It is the first major exhibition to focus on the skills, craft and workmanship of Indian textiles from the 3rd to 21st century.
We take inspiration from crafts, traditions and trends from all over the world so this exhibition was of course unmissable for us. Textiles can provide interior designers with a huge source of inspiration; their colours, textures, design and pattern can all inform the basis of an interior’s look and feel.
The exhibition is both a historical journey and a celebration of an ancient craft being vibrantly kept alive today. As you enter the exhibition, you are first taught about the fundamentals of Indian textile production including dying and colouring techniques of silk, cotton and wool.
It is fascinating to discover how the natural plant based dyes can produce such rich colouring that has stood the test of time - many of the pieces on display are centuries old. These dyes come from a range of natural sources including turmeric (yellow), lac beetle secretions (earthy red), indigo plants (blue) and chay root bark (red).
There is a section dedicated to political textiles, as co-curator Divia Patel said “Fabric was also very tied up with the resistance movement. It was a key symbol of power and protest”. Gandhi's Swadeshi movement, for example, encouraged handmade fabric production as a way of rejecting foreign goods.
Alongside historic items are contemporary pieces, like this women’s ‘Ajrak’ jacket below which was designed by Rajesh Pratap Singh in 2010.
There is also this extraordinary “moveable palace”, pictured below, which was Tipu Sultan’s (the Indian ruler of Mysore) 18th century tent.
The exhibition is on until January 10th 2016 so catch it while you can!