Stitch by Stitch - Contemporary handmade textiles from India & Nepal

Contemporary handmade textiles from India & Nepal

Social Fabric: African Textiles Today

Nelson Mandela capulana, 2008, copyright: Trustees of the British Museum

Nelson Mandela capulana, 2008, copyright: Trustees of the British Museum

Always on the look out for interesting textile exhibitions, we recently learnt of this new show which just opened at the William Morris Gallery in north London, Social Fabric: African Textiles Today.  

It explores how printed and factory-woven textiles of eastern and southern Africa mirror social change, changing fashion and tastes in the region.  The exhibition brings together kanga from Kenya and Tanzania and schweshwe textiles from southern Africa, and reveals how African tastes have been shaped by global trade.

 

'I did not join the struggle to be poor' by Lawrence Lemaoana, South Africa, 2015.  Copyright: Afronova Johannesburg and Lawrence Lemaoana

'I did not join the struggle to be poor' by Lawrence Lemaoana, South Africa, 2015.  Copyright: Afronova Johannesburg and Lawrence Lemaoana

Also featured are contemporary artworks and fashion inspired by the textiles in the exhibition, such as this artwork above by Lawrence Lemaoana, who uses kanga to express notions of power in post-Apartheid South Africa.  

The varied patterns and inscriptions are thought provoking and often humorous. They often convey thoughts and feelings which can't always be spoken out loud.  The fabrics are worn in both secular and sacred contexts.

London-based fashion label CHiCHia is inspired by proverbs from Tanzanian kanga, like the example shown below.

"I may be quiet, but there's a lot in my heart", Kenya, early 21st century.  Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum.

"I may be quiet, but there's a lot in my heart", Kenya, early 21st century.  Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum.

Social Fabric: African Textiles Today, is at the William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Rd, Walthamstow, London E17 4PP, until 29 May 2016.

It is a British Museum touring exhibition supported by The British Museum and The Dorset Foundation.  Thank you to the William Morris Gallery for the images.

 

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