India’s painted and printed cottons
In the many months since March 2020, I have been back to my office twice: both times on a Sunday to pick up things I needed. And then IT asked that everyone come into the office during September 2021 for updates and to make sure everything was still working etc.
So I got up, showered, put on office clothes!!, and waited for the bus. Overall the day went pretty well. Only a few of us went in. Toby encouraged me to get a nice lunch as a treat. And then I left work a little early to take advantage of being downtown and walked up to the ROM.
The benefit of a membership I think is that I do not feel compelled to see.all.the.things! I can look at what’s happening, chose one thing and then just see that and leave. And that’s exactly what I did.
The exhibit is on until January 2, 2022 so you can definitely still go and see it. It was pretty nifty. All about cotton and how artisans in India created and advanced their craft time and time again.
The colours and patterns were stunning. And so interesting to see the differences of the fabric made for different markets!
Both of the above were made in India but for export to different markets: Egypt and Japan. There was also Sri Lanka, Iran, Indonesia and of course Canada:
There was also a discussion of how local makers took inspiration from Indian chintz but also made it their own:
And from Indian chintz to African prints. The ROM exhibit explained that in East Africa, women first dressed in printed cottons imported from India but by the 1970s they had switched to their own designs.
There was also a little section showing how some of the dyes were developed.
If you have a smart phone you can listen to a free descriptive audio tour of the whole exhibit with 10 or so stops. As someone who has a bit of working knowledge of fabrics from my own forays into knitting and basic sewing and cross-stitching (and some embroidery) I was just amazed by the variety and the obviously huge amounts of work involved.
I was pretty impressed and happy with my little visit. I checked the ROM website again afterwards and found a few links to talks and interviews they have posted to youtube about Post-Independence revival of India’s craft industries and with the curator of this exhibit. I love that they made it easy to dive as deep as you want to go on the topic. I’ve added the “Ethics of Production in Historic Chintz” to my future watch list!
I recently decided that I want to do a deep dive into fungi and lichen so I’m off to the ROM website again to see what they’ve got…