Fascinating Exploration of Turkey Red

image slideGayfield Creative Spaces in Edinburgh is focused on local and international creative collaboration. It is not surprising therefore that India Street, curated by Katy West, has been supported by a variety of agencies including the National Museum of Scotland, British Council, Creative Scotland and the Centre for Advanced Textiles (CAT), Glasgow School of Art.

The title of the exhibition comes from the name of the street in the Vale of Leven that once housed the biggest producer of Turkey Red fabrics in the world. The project (which extends beyond this initial exhibition) invited seven designers from Scotland and India to create a new textile design in response to the Bombay Sample Book (1853-1868) held by the National Museum of Scotland. The resulting seven textiles explore the social and economic relationship between Scotland, India and Turkey Red fabrics.

Gandhi in Darwen, 1931 by Charlotte LintonCharlotte Linton’s design Ghandi in Darwen, 1931 commemorates the visit made by Mahatma Gandhi to a Lancashire Textile mill in 1931. Gandhi had initiated a boycott of goods from Britain in order to encourage self-sufficiency in India – the mill owners had hoped that by showing him the hardships suffered by the workforce due to lack of work would encourage him to abandon the boycott. In contrast Laura Spring’s textile design Print Sample IV is the most abstract of the collection, concerned with pattern and practice, rather than politics.

The strength of this exhibition lies in its display. A statement explaining the influences and developments that led to its design accompanies each textile, in addition to original Turkey Red textiles and products. Though the original Bombay Sample Book could not be displayed, a digital facsimile is available in its place. A display along one wall gives the key events in the development of Turkey Red and the social and political climate in which it was produced and exported. Another wall features an epic mural by Tony McKay that shows the geographic locations of key sites in Scotland and India. In other exhibitions this would result in information overload, but India Street is perfectly balanced and allows an in depth exploration of a fascinating subject. And if all that exploring leaves you thirsty, complementary peppermint tea is available.

Review by Francesca Baseby

See: India Street Part One: The Bombay Sample Book
Until 11 September 2014
Gayfield Creative Spaces, 11 Gayfield Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3NT
Thurs – Sun 11am – 6pm

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