Helen Scalway

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India’s multi-speed textiles

I must come soon to the daunting question of framing some kind of response as an artist to the quantity of images I have gathered from my two research sites, Green Street, Newham, E.7-13, with its South Asian textile outlets; and the South Asian textiles collection at the V&A. I went to India to try and understand a little more what it was I was seeing in these sites. Iâ??d like to share some last images from that journey before moving on.

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Inside some Indian workshops

I went to India in order to try and understand a little, if I could, something of the cultures which produce the ornament on the South Asian clothing I see in London, and which add to the many existing strands in the cityâ??s visual patterning.I wanted also to see how the textiles are produced. This post shows some image sequences from two workshops, in towns geographically far apart.

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More Postcards

In my last post I put up some images of postcards I made while travelling in India and sent back to the V&A. Here are some more, and some thoughts about that activity.Postcards offer idealised pictures. They have usually been manipulated so that colours are brighter, the light more dramatic, than in reality. They tell the stories which their manufacturers want us to receive.The post cards which I took with me from London offered just such manipulated views. The skies were ultra-blue, the people and buildings air-brushed into a pristine state.

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Postcards from India

In India I travelled from one city to another, looking at textile and jewellery workshops. As I did so I thought of the late 19th century voyager to India, Caspar Purdon Clarke, who was sent in the 1880s to purchase objects for the Victoria and Albert Museumâ??s Indian collections.

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A Mumbai Textile company

I had planned visits to workshops and factories in India.

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The British Sari

A photograph of a sari for Green Street, London E 17, by Helen Scalway .

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Shifting Ornament

Cities, streets, houses â?? how do we make them home?Often by ornamenting them. If we look closely we may find these places are layered with meaning and memory because of their patterning.Textile patterns have travelled between South Asia and Britain from the seventeenth century to our own day. Do these voyages change the patterns as cargoes of meaning and memory? Does their arrival subtly change the cityscape, and how?

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