Swapnaa Tamhane: The Golden Fibre

Explore jute’s hidden histories with the newest commission in our Scottish Design Galleries.

Artist, curator and writer Swapnaa Tamhane has created our latest installation The Golden Fibre. Drawing inspiration from archives held at the University of Dundee and Verdant Works, her work explores the context of jute during British colonialism and the lives of workers in and around Calcutta in British-ruled Bengal (now a region split between India and Bangladesh).

Tamhane’s work allows visitors to dig deeper into a local story with a huge transnational context, opening up an important conversation about Dundee's relationship with colonialism and how people across continents have been impacted by it, in many different ways.

This installation is a collage of archival photographs and drawings of workers as well as microscopic images of jute paper that Tamhane has made by hand. An installation of mirrors called Tum Banglá mat bolo, ham kuchh nahín samajhtá hai (You don’t speak Bengali, I can’t understand anything.) reveals the colonial attitudes of Scottish managers in Bengali jute mills. What is our relationship towards these attitudes and histories today?

Explore our range of online resources, including images and documents from the archives that have inspired the work.

This commission has been co-curated by V&A Dundee and Mother Tongue.

It has been created in partnership with the University of Dundee Archives Services and Verdant Works (Dundee Heritage Trust).

Scottish Design Galleries


Online resources

Explore images and documents from the archives that have inspired the work.

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