On my return flight from Kochi, I reflect on a wonderful month spent in the company of a group of engaging Selvedge readers, with whom I shared many experiences and became fast friends. One of my lasting impressions from this Selvedge tour of India is how inspiring it is to see a country embracing a new epoch that, with government support, has shaken off the shackles of the past.
Image: Quilter: Hajarambi Mandvekar, Hand stitched Siddi kavand, pre-consumer cotton waste, 233 x 254 cm
This attitude is reflected worldwide in communities previously oppressed by colonial powers, who suffered the barbaric practice of enslavement, cruel segregationist policies and institutionalised racism but are now emancipated, self-confident, and taking centre stage. These makers previously excluded from the European canon are embracing ancestral knowledge, regional materials, and craft practices, transforming them into sustainable practices born out of a desire for a future based on social justice. In this issue, Anabella Pollen describes Sonya Clark’s unravelling of the Confederate Battle flag as a symbolic dismantling of white supremacy. African fashion designers Daniel Olantunji and Imane Ayissi reimagine local materials and ancestral techniques to fashion garments that demonstrate craft skills long dismissed in Europe. Their energy and creativity are driving global society.
Image: Nike Davies-Okundaye, Animal World, 1968, Embroidery, 68 x 78 cm
The tourism industry in India acknowledges a comprehensive view of culture, free from the class constraints that limit our vision in the UK. Unlike the UK, India has ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, a point Jane Audas underlines in her review of Making Mischief at Compton Verney. This convention encourages a broader view of cultural heritage, including, as we enjoyed on our trip, a Kathakali dance performance in Kerala and the Amber Fort in Jaipur. Just imagine if Visit England promoted the work of willow basketmakers with the same vigour as Blenheim Palace: we would deliver a more diverse visitor experience and generate much-needed income for the crafts sector.
Image: Ilma Ugiobari (Savari) (b.1969), Hijiomene Ahihe - Ancestors Mirror, 2019, hand beaten appliqué sewn with grass thread and bone of a bat wing needle, 61 x 130 cm
If you are around, we hope to see you at the American Museum in Bath on 9 September 2023, for our Make-Do Fair. I hope to see you there.
Bias from Issue 112, Wonder, out today, 15 April 2023. Available to buy in digital and hard copy from the Selvedge website.
Image: Makeup: @delphine.erhart, Hair: @atsushiyy, Agency: @mfthavonekham, Model: @akurchol_, Agency: @marilynagencyparis, Photographer: @emmanuelle.hauguel, Agency: @talentandpartner, Art director & stylist: @nelson_sepulveda_design, Assistant: @louiselesaffr
Written by Polly Leonard, Founder of Selvedge Magazine