The Fabric of India exhibition, Victoria & Albert Museum
We were privileged to attend the opening night of The Fabric of India exhibition, the first major exhibition to explore the dynamic and multifaceted world of handmade textiles from India from the 3rd to the 21st century.
Indian paneer cubes with pomegranate seeds, coriander crab pate on mini papadums, ginger chilli scallops and seared tuna tarts, prosecco, watermelon fizz, and whisky sours, Indian music, speech from the director of the V&A, guests wafting round in colourful fabrics, gift bags from ‘The Good Earth’ company containing hand embroidered Indian cloths – and we haven’t even arrived at the exhibition yet!
A glimpse through the opening door leaves you tingling with intrigue: florescent pink strings extend from illuminated dots in the title, across the ceiling, then tie on the other side as if the fibres themselves are bursting from the words, an immediate celebration of the Indian fabric trade. Underneath: an old floor hanging of red and green poppies on hessian like cloth. Two mannequins bookend the stand, one in a dress of cascading ceramic butterflies that spill in multicolours to the floor; an explosion of contrast anticipates the diverse range exhibited ahead.
The rooms take you from ancient battle scene tapestries to religious wall hangings; silk-worm cocoons to embellished royal robes; a sultan’s tent to everyday trading cloths; a room dedicated to a red and green elephant wall hanging found abandoned on a New York street corner; the entire Koran text printed on a five hundred year old shirt worn for luck in battle or illness.
Towards the end of the exhibition you enter The Changing World. Colours suddenly become more cleansed, muted and white, clipped industrial sounds play, and you find yourself looking at an Indian ‘leather jacket’ that inspired Lady GaGa and prints made by designers.
A must see exhibition. We visited the exhibition as part of a double whammy day with Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy. If you fancy a culture crawl the two couldn’t be more different. Stay tuned for our Weiwei review!
The Fabric of India. Victoria & Albert Museum from 3 October 2015 – 10 January 2016.
As members EY people can visit the exhibition free of charge.