Image: Women's shawl (bagh). Part of the SOAS Baghs - Abstract Gardens exhibition. Pre-partition Punjab, mid 20th century. Cotton with floss silk embroidery.
The Karun Thakar Fund was created by Karun Thakar in collaboration with the V&A and aims to enrich the fields of Asian and African textiles and dress by supporting new and original approaches to study and practice, foregrounding fresh perspectives and ground-breaking research.
Image: Women's shawl or head-cover. 19th century. Cotton with floss silk embroidery.
The V&A holds one of the largest museum collections of Asian textiles and dress in the world, and the extensive private collections of Karun Thakar span the textiles and dress of both Asia and Africa. Using both collections as points of departure, the fund promotes materials-based, object-led learning and encourages new, meaningful, and innovative approaches to Asian and African textile and dress studies.
From July 2021, The Karun Thakar Fund will offer scholarships to student practitioners and researchers studying any aspect of Asian or African textile/dress design or history. One-time awards of up to £10,000 are available for use towards tuition fees, materials, or maintenance costs. University students at BA, MA or PhD level attending any accredited university either in the UK or internationally are welcome to apply. The deadline for applications has now been extended to 30 September 2021.
"I have been collecting antique textiles and costumes for more than 35 years. I developed my passion for fabrics from a very early age, through helping my mother in her couture shop. My fascination with textiles stems from the fact that no other material is so close to our bodies, touching our skin, absorbing our body’s imprints – acquiring a patina of intimacy and age from our movement and touch. On the other hand textiles are full of history and also present a mirror to global historical events. Studying and researching the field made me look at my collections with new eyes, questioning the conventional history in the light of post-colonial contexts and narratives. For example, very little historical writing exists about the women of 19th-century Asia and Africa, but fascinating glimpses into their lives are provided by their embroidery and weaving. I hope that by shining a light on lesser known textile cultures and historical traditions, new ideas will ignite fresh interest in the important role that textiles have to play in understanding the world.
My dear friend Lulu Lytle proposed this fund a number of years ago, as a way of recognising the importance of antique textiles in contemporary textile designs. Then, after the global pandemic of 2020 resulted in a huge increase in online international dialogue on this subject, I felt that this was the right time to launch the project.”
The deadline for application submissions has been extended to 30 September 2021. Download the Scholarship Award Guidance & Application Form from the V&A website.
Read the rest of Karun Thakar's introduction to the Fund here: Creating the Karun Thakar Fund