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.

Click on an image for a larger version.

Mumbai embroiderer Derelict textile mill, Mumbai Old Delhi sewing machine repair workshop

India is not only intensely regional, multi-faith and multi-ethnic, as its textiles suggest. It also goes at a variety of economic speeds and the textile industry reflects this. You can see handloom weaving and hand embroidery: and also the most advanced digitally controlled machines for producing bulk quantities. The workshop owners I spoke to all said that Indiaâ??s trade advantage in textiles was in her great tradition of handwork, but I had the impression of a fast moving, fast changing situation. Already the mighty old spinning mills of Mumbai are as derelict as they were in Manchester in the UK very recently. The textile mills have gone where labour is cheaper: Gujerat for example. As in Manchester, the Mumbai sites are being redeveloped for chic apartment blocks.

In India the age-old is side by side with the futuristic. I returned with an overwhelmed sense of quantity, variety, that some things stay the same while others are shifting at a frantic speed. These images I hope suggest this.

Digitally controlled embroidery machine Digitally controlled embroidery machine, Delhi Delhi advertising

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