V&A India Festival, which is now coming to an end, presented many exhibitions, displays, and events to explore culture of South Asia. Victoria and Albert museum showcased exhibition “The Fabric of India” as a highlight of V&A India Festival. The exhibition was on display from 3rd of October until 10th of January.
Exhibition hall had dimmed lights which helped visitors to concentrate on the objects, the sound effect also helped to relax and fully explore the world of textiles. When you enter the exhibition you can see large floor spread. It was used in a Mughal palace in summer time to cover the sitting area inside the palace. Flower pattern created indoor garden for people who were sitting inside. This is a great piece to open the exhibition as it grabs attention with its size and pattern. Each letter of the title of the show “The Fabrics of India” connects to the opposite wall by red threads. It created depth and perspective and goes well with the concept of exhibition.
The exhibition covers not only India but South Asian region. This region included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It was well-explained how different climate zones and geographical regions enable masters to access different variety of plant fibre. Some regions are famous in particular type of textile: Assam – golden silk, Bengal – fine cottons, the red dyes of south-east India. It is very helpful that each object has a dot on the map where it was created; it provides a better understanding of the subject.
The textiles were explained from different perspectives: technical side, how it is all manufactures, and cultural side, how the textiles were applied. There was a display with different dyes and explanation of how the colour was reached. For example, if indigo plant was left at the sun longer the plant gives paler blue colour than the one that flown on the shadow.
Overall it is very informative exhibition, describing the history of textiles, how the trade began between India and European countries, how machine mass production of textiles and tariffs affected the industry. From the curatorial point of view, the exhibition was very well put together and was very engaging. Information was delivered through short video clips, as well as description of each subject. There were also some samples of silk, cotton and other textiles, which were accessible to public.