Helen Scalway

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Looking back on ‘Moving Patterns’

The show at the Royal Geographical Soety in London is over. Itâ??s time to reflect on the experience. What has emerged? While working on the project I tried to keep three questions in mind. Iâ??d amassed a magpie hoard of photos from my Indian journey in 2008 and my visits to my research sites (Green […]

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A Mini-Museum at the Royal Geographical Society

At one end of the Pavilion exhibition space of the Royal Geographical Society, I created a mini-museum based on experiences of looking into the South Asian Textile Collection at the V&A: a small display which explored the activities of collection and display in the colonial nineteenth century. As an installation it faced the pallets and carrier bags (see the May post for images) which I had used to evoke the contemporary passage of goods across the continents from South Asia to British retail outlets.

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At the Royal Geographical Society

The themes of this exhibition concern the mobility of ornament between Britain and South Asia in both colonial and post colonial times in Britain. To convey some of this, the exhibition exploits ideas of framing. Frames isolate the thing framed, and speak of its status. Even buildings can act as â??framesâ?? for the work or people or things within.

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Moving Patterns at the National Geographic Society

Moving Patterns is my drawing installation, at the Royal Geographical Society showing from May 7th-May 21st . It bears witness to the way in which pattern and ornament are laden with meaning and memory in both colonial and post-colonial times and is part of the Fashioning Diaspora Space project with the Victoria & Albert Museum, […]

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Charting and Framing

I was looking for communicable structures through which to convey the shifting plenitude of the material and decided to explore the notions of â??shopâ?? and â??museumâ??, echoing my research sites, the contemporary textile shops in Green Street, Newham, and the South Asian textile collection at the V&A. This chart was made as a result of my many visits to South Asian textile shops and conversations with proprietors, employees and customers.

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Trials, Errors, and Does It Work?

I was back in Wimbledon College of Art, in The Drawing Centre Project Space, for a second phase of the residency. The residency was immensely helpful, for it kept posing the question: what are the key aspects of my experiences in this project?I kept returning to the jostle of different worlds in close proximity in the city, the mutual encounter of different ways of seeing the world: the sheer quantity and uncontrollability of stuff, of goods, amongst which places and distances fold and tangle.

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Different worlds and different ways of seeing the world

My residency in the Wimbledon College of Art Drawing Centre Project Space unfolded in three separate phases.

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Thinking About the Photographs

I’d taken so many photos. Now I had boxes of them, pictures taken in and around Green Street, E.13, images of the shops and houses; and many also from the South Asian Textile Collection at the V&A, photos of the textile storage and display, and of the museum building itself.What to do with all this material, this evidence of the churn of the city? In my research plan Iâ??d indicated that I would â??analyseâ?? the images â?? but the truth is, they formed a tumbling, out-of-control hoard.

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At the Museum

My second site for this practice-based research is the South Asian Collection at the V&A, particularly the textiles collection. Buildings tell their own stories just as textiles do and the V&A and its South Asian textiles are no exception, being vivid, poignant utterances of a huge, complex and often bitter history – the history of Britainâ??s imperial past in India. How does the museum present or â??frameâ?? its collection? Frames instruct us, or try to, as to how to perceive the thing which is framed.

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Green Street, Newham – a London ‘bazaar’

Since the beginning of last year I’ve been walking frequently along Green Street in East London and around the streets which form its hinterland, looking at the shop displays and also at the houses in the surrounding area, the blocks of flats, the vehicles and street furniture. (The other place I go to a lot is the South Asian Collection at the V&A, but that’s for a later post). Various populations originating from South Asia (often Gujerat via East Africa) have settled in this area of London bringing their food, music, films and clothing traditions with them.

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