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Textiles across Borders: Undivided Bengal and the Story of its Textiles

Ritwika  Misra

 

Weavers Studio Resource Centre (WSRC), Kolkata warmly welcomes everyone to come together for the launch of the much awaited exhibition Textiles across Borders: Undivided Bengal and the Story of its Textiles in Kolkata, India in the Winter of 2021.

 

 

About the Exhibition

Looking at the history of undivided Bengal from the Sultanate period, the Mughal Subah, the coming and settling of the Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, French, and the East India Company, followed by the Industrial Revolution, British Colonial rule and the Bengal Presidency, it becomes evident that Bengal -East and West combined, had played a leading role in trade, textile traditions and cultural exchanges over the centuries.

In this exhibition, the WSRC uncovers  the magnificent and under explored history of textiles from undivided Bengal through over 100 textiles collected over past four years drawing from various national and international museums, public  institutions, private collectors and dealers.

Scope of the Exhibition

Textiles across Borders: Undivided Bengal and the Story of its Textiles will take you through the nuanced history of the geographical region of Undivided Bengal, through its changing political dynasties, international trade network, poly colonial influences, migration, rise of Bengal as the hub of cotton production, British colonialism, the effects of industrialisation, right up to the movement for independence and the political and geographical rupture that was brought about by the partition. 

Drawing  from various repositories of public and private collection to showcase the brilliant history  of textiles that were produced and traded from the geographical region of Bengal. Looking at the history of undivided Bengal from the Sultanate period, the Mughal Subah, the coming and settling of the Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, French, and the East India Company, followed by the Industrial Revolution, British Colonial rule and the Bengal Presidency, it becomes evident that Bengal -East and West combined, had played a leading role in trade, textile traditions and cultural exchanges over the centuries. 

From the fabled muslins which clothed the entire world , to the rich history of lost textiles like satgaon quilts which was extensively produced in Bengal for Portugese market, the incredible skilled spinners and the genius master-weavers who produced the finest quality  of jamdani, to the kanthas embroidered by nameless women in the homes of Bengal, the luxurious silk produced in and traded from Bengal, the exhibitions will speak to the audience through various sensory mediums of textiles, photographs, maps, objects and archival documents.



 

 

 

 

Please fill up the form in the link given below

Form for Internship & Volunteer Application



Program

The exhibition will ensure a holistic understanding of this textile tradition including placing it within its historical and socio-cultural context, dissecting its designs and motifs while drawing comparisons to relevant art forms, understanding the materials and complex techniques used in weaving as well as highlighting its current status.

The interactive exhibition will be aided by an audio-visual display, live demonstrations on the looms by weavers to showcase the intricate process of weaving . In addition, a series of events will accompany the exhibition including an International Seminar with prominent scholars, curators and textile experts discussing the textile  traditions, curated walk-throughs and activities. The exhibition aims to appeal to a diverse audience and educate them on the various aspects and contexts of textiles and culture of Undivided Bengal.

Highlights

  • Over 100 textiles
  • Never before seen collections from Private and Public domain collected from Asia, Europe and United States of America
  • 3 months of Exhibition, Workshops, Performances
  • Showcasing award winning works of Master Weavers
  • Opportunities for Internship and Volunteering
  • Textile tours
  • Heritage walk
  • Panel discussions

We are  committed to make the exhibition to be all inclusive and invite participation from diverse groups of audiences. There is something for everyone so check the Visitor’s Program page for all the details which will be  updated every week.

 


 

YOUNG & CURIOUS

 

Module I
NO MESS, ALL COLOURS

 

 

Age group: 4 to 6 years

Difficulty Level: 1

Activity: In this session, we have art instructors to help the children create simple geometrical patterns by tracing the motifs from Kantha and Jamdani.

Have fun with colour as much as you want. No one’s going to scold for colouring outside the line. If you want a tree to be yellow, and fish to be pink, it’s all for you!

Colour them as they please and take them home.

Duration: 30 minutes

Maximum no. of participants:  6 children in one session.

Materials: Papers, colours and all fun facts will be provided by us.

BONUS: Take home a  set of 5 printed colouring pages.

Colour it, Click a picture and share with us .

 

 

CONNECT THE DOTS

Age group: 5 to 7 years

Difficulty Level: 2

 

Activity: Take a pencil and join from one dot to another. Let’s find the shapes we get.

A fun filled activity to create simple line based geometrical patterns based on motifs of textiles.

Duration: 30 minutes

Maximum no. of participants:  6 children with one guardian in a session.

Materials: Papers, colours and stationeries will be provided by us.

BONUS: A freebie of downloadable pattern sheets for you take home and explore.


Module 2 
WASTE TO WEALTH

Age group:  8 years to 12 years

Difficulty Level: 3

 

Activity: In this session, our art educators will introduce the idea of UPCYCLE.

Colourful pieces of fabrics from old clothes and textiles will be used to make little gifts for your home.

Little messy but a lot of fun!!

Duration: 40 minutes

Maximum no. of participants:  10 children  in a session.

Materials: Papers, colours and stationeries will be provided by us.

BONUS: Free guide book for you and your family so that next time you learn altogether.

 


MAKE YOUR OWN COLOURS

Age group: 12 to 16 years

Difficulty Level: 3

 

Activity: In this session, our natural dye experts will demonstrate and help the children to make colours using natural ingredients like flowers, spices, and vegetables.

Duration: 40 minutes

Maximum no. of participants:  10 children  in a session.

Materials: All dyes, water and materials including apron and gloves will be provided.

BONUS: A downloadable kit book to help you make colours at home.

 

 



EDUCATORS & STUDENTS

Weavers Studio Resource Centre offers fun and challenging programs for young adults interested in history, textile, fashion, design and visual arts.

Module 1
LEARN FROM THE EXHIBITION

This program is specially curated  for the School Teachers.

Sessions: 2 hours session every Saturday

Time: 3 pm to 5 pm

What you get: A Teacher’s Resource Kit and Membership to the Archives and Library of Weavers Studio Resource Centre.

Registration required.

Please find the  link to the registration form  below

Registration for Teacher’s Program

Please download the introductory Resources Kit.

Resource Kit for Teachers

 


Module 2

Age group: 16 years and above

FROM YARN TO TEXTILES

 

 

 

Number of Days: 1

Time: 11 am to 3 pm (including one hour lunch break )

In this one day long  workshop led by our Education Team  and National awardee weaver learn what it takes to make a textile. With aid of pre recorded film, slide presentation, and live demonstration with a loom at our exhibition site, learn about the steps that goes in to making of a fabric.

What you will get:

Apart from new friends and lot of fun, you will be given a learning kit, comprising of basic introductory readings, illustrated manual of the processes and a pass to visit the Textile archives at Weavers Studio Resource Centre.

 

 


Module 3

Age group: 18 years and above

TEXTILES: NATURE, MOTIFS AND PATTERN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age group : 18 years and above

Number of Days: 2

Time: 11 am to 4 pm (including one hour lunch break )

Ideal for anyone  interested in design and textile , this 2 part workshop, we will take the participants through major motifs that are found in the textiles like: Kantha, Baluchari and Jamdani. Their history, socio cultural significance.

The second day will be led by a contemporary artist where the  participants will be taught to pick up few elements of their choices and how to create patterns out of them.

 



WORKSHOPS

 

 

Our workshops cater to all interested groups.

From young textile enthusiasts, to designers who want to upskill their craft, to families.

Each workshop is curated according to the specific needs.

Keep an eye on the page for specific updates and reminders.

The two major workshops in schedule are:

WORKSHOP I 

“Art of Upcycling” by Dorji, a home grown brand out of Shantiniketan, working with a small cluster of women in villages of Birbhum.


WORKSHOP II

 

“Introduction to Natural Dyes” will be conducted by expert masters in Natural Dyes from Rangeen, Kolkata.

Rangeen is the production and job working unit where hand block & screen printing, hand weaving, value added textile techniques such as batik, shibori, clamp, felting, embroideries are undertaken for in house as well as to support the export business.

Participants interested to register please download the introductory learning kit from the link given below.

Introduction to Natural Dyes : Learning Kit

We offer two types of textile tour packages :

 

  1. Embroidery Workshop : 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

A workshop of 3 hours on different kinds of traditional Indian embroidery. We shall provide with fabric, threads and all other accessories required for this workshop. This package includes :

  • A textile hands on workshop on different kinds of traditional embroidery.
  • Guided tour of our production facilities (weaving, dyeing, printing,embroidery)
  • Viewing old & rare textiles of the world at our archive
  • An unique shopping experience at Weavers Studio
  • Lunch & tea
  • Viewing Indian textile films
  • Visit n enjoy an exhibition / music / dance / theatre performance at our ‘Centre For The Arts’ or ICCR in the evening (depending on programme schedules of cultural events)

Cost of such a workshop with a guided tour of our production unit followed by  lunch at our store will be Rs. 3000 per person​/day.

 

 

  1. Block Printing & Tie & Dye Workshop : 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

We also organise a comprehensive half day package for the Textile Enthusiasts visiting Kolkata, India, from different countries and who would like to experience the textile heritage of our country. This package would include :

  • A textile hands on workshop in tie & dye and block printing (All material will be provided by us)
  • Guided tour of our production facilities (weaving, dyeing, printing, embroidery) and textile archives
  • Viewing old & rare textiles of the world at our archive
  • An unique shopping experience at Weavers Studio
  • Lunch & tea
  • Viewing Indian textile films
  • Visit n enjoy an exhibition / music / dance / theater performance at our ‘Centre For The Arts’ or ICCR in the evening (depending on programme schedules of cultural events)
  • Visit our Digitization Centre where we digitize and archive sounds from old 78 rpm records.  View old and rare records, gramophones.  Listen to speeches by famous world leaders, old music and theatre, poetry by famous poets and much more.

 

The Cost per person of such a package would be Rs.3000 per person/per day. (For a group of minimum 6 people).

A combined package of all workshops would cost INR. 5000 per person.

Textile student groups will get a discount of Rs. 500 per person.

 

  1. Quick Guided Tour : 10:00 am to 12:00 noon / 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

In case of shortage of time, we have an option of Quick Guided Tour of our production unit & archives. It is followed by a shopping experience at our store, visit to our Digitization Centre and tea & snacks.

The cost per person would be Rs. 1500/-.

 

 



PODCAST

Each week will have two podcast sessions in Bengali and English. This section will be to showcase various oral narratives, stories and anecdotes which usually do not find their way to public

The live streaming will be also available on the Social Media as well the transcription will be made to available on request.



FAMILY CORNER

Museum of Untold Stories

This section at the Exhibition has been designed to bring together the family as an audience. Children, parents, grandparents, friends and neighbours are invited to make most out of this and fill us with memories and stories.

 

 

 

This section has been especially curated to engage our young audiences with the senior section of our population. Our grandparents have been the best story tellers we had in our lives. But do you know hoe your grandmother dressed when she went to college, or what did your grandfather wear to his wedding? Or when did your mother first wear a saree or what was the most treasured piece of clothing that you have inherited.

So ask your grandparents, bug your parents to show that old picture, or that beautiful white kurta or pink jamdani that they still keep wrapped in mulmul carefully in their wardrobe.

Bring your parents and grandparents to the exhibition.

We will hear their stories, film their conversations and teach you all how to take care of the beautiful textiles at home.

And the best part you can go back to these stories whenever you want.

 

Every Sunday, from 11 am to 1 pm.

No. of Participants per session: 8 (4 pairs)

Pre registration required.

 



 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

  1. Ayan Guha
  2. Darshan Shah
  3. Haripal Basak
  4. Kavita Patel
  5. Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose
  6. Namrata Ghosh
  7. Seonti, Dorji Shantiniketan
  8. Stuti Gandhi
  9. Dr. Vandana Sinha
  10. Weavers Studio Resource Centre
  11. All fellows of AIIS Nov-Dec Cohort

CREDITS

  1. Weavers Studio Resource Centre, Kolkata.
  2. Weavers Studio, Kolkata
  3. Indian Museum, Kolkata
  4. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

 

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