“Garba (ગરબા in Gujarati) is a form of dance that originated in the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha (“womb”) and Deep (“a small earthenware lamp”). Many traditional Garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp…”
During a two month residency in Gujarat, Jeni Allison spent time working and learning alongside artisans, exploring the links between textile, dance and tradition. In particular she explored how women make, why women make and in what context women make. The outcomes are often painstakingly intricate embroideries and bandhani work for wedding and festival clothing, as well as dowries and presents for in-laws. These age-old traditions are steadfast, Rabari women make both bride and groom outfits for weddings, and will often spend months or years on these pieces. However divorce rates in the area are increasing dramatically, often instigated by women, who before marriage will never have met their husband. There is a feeling, amongst younger Rabari’s, that marriage is a choice, however the textile traditions which precede it are not.
This exhibition and programme of associated events focuses on the relationship between textile and ceremony within artisan cultures in Gujarat, and will open with a live off-site performance, drawing on festival culture in Gujarat. The performance will take place within Virginia Court, and will be a reconstruction on the traditional Garba. A static installation will remain in The Telfer Gallery for the duration of the exhibition, which will have been created in situ the month prior to the exhibition launch. Traces of this process will remain.
During the duration of the exhibition Jeni Alison will run workshops and host events in the gallery focusing on textile tradition in Gujarat (Bandhani, Shibori and natural dye), as well as sharing her experiences in the region.
Preview: Friday May 31st, 6-9pm (live performance in Virginia Court at 6pm)
Open: June 1st – 30th, Thurs – Sunday, 12-5pm
Workshops / Events:
6th June – Shibori Workshop (free)
Gujarati Shirbori and Bandhani (a form of tie-dye) are used in festival veils for women, as well as everyday wear (saris etc. The tying process tends to be done by women, whilst the dying is carried out by men, however this is changing. Whilst in Gujarat I met a young women of 19 who was learning to dye herself. She is the first women that I met (or heard of) that intends to make a career out of producing dye related textile. During this workshop we will learn the basics of tying and binding fabric for dying.
13th June – Shibori & Natural Dye Workshop (free)
Gujarati Shirbori and Bandhani (a form of tie-dye) are used in festival veils for women, as well as everyday wear (saris etc. The tying process tends to be done by women, whilst the dying is carried out by men, however this is changing. Whilst in Gujarat I met a young women of 19 who was learning to dye herself. She is the first women that I met (or heard of) that intends to make a career out of producing dye related textile. During this workshop we will learn the basics of tying and binding fabric for dying. We will also explore natural dyes, and discuss where these dyes come from and what their environmental impact is.
27th June – Film Screening & Discussion of ‘The Stitches Speak’ (free)
Rabari women are generally illiterate, and textile (especially embroidery) serve as the only non-oral history of their movement, linage and customs. We will show the film Tanko Bole Chhe which was made with the women I worked with in Gujarat. We will also discuss how textiles serve as an archive for women.
“Tanko Bole Chhe (The Stitches Speak) is an animated documentary which celebrates the art and passion of the Kutch artisans associated with Kala Raksha. The film traces multiple journeys made by the participants towards defining their identities and towards forming the Kala Raksha Trust and the School for Design.
The film uses their narrative art of appliqué and embroideries through which they articulate their responses to life, and events as traumatic as the earthquake and as joyful as flying a kite. Through conversations and memories four voices share their involvement in the evolution of a craft tradition.”