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Shamiana: Mughal Textiles

Shamiana : Mughal Textiles at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition of some 20 textile panels inspired largely by the magnificent collection of Mughal paintings held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 27 October. The works in Shamiana: Mughal Textiles, which is organised by the Museum’s Education and Community Department, were created by groups of mainly Asian women and children, primarily in the United Kingdom but also in a number of other countries, as part of an arts education project developed by the V&A in 1997. One panel The Dance of Life, 1993, is the work of Irish and East Asian women who worked with artist Wendy Cowan at the West Tallaght Womens’ Textile Group. Drawing on the Mughal miniatures in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, the women explored the social restructuring of their lives in contemporary Ireland.

The Shamiana panels, exhibited at the V&A in a Mughal ceremonial tent (or Shamiana) depict narrative scenes relating to home, refuge and dispossession. Most of the participants in the core UK groups shared the common experience of immigration, usually from South Asia but also from the Middle East and North Africa. The women were particularly concerned with their own, and their children’s, alienation from their root culture. A growing generational and cultural gap with their children spurred many to becoming involved as a means of addressing their sense of isolation and loneliness.

Many of the panels reflect both the superb skills traditionally seen in the depiction of familiar South Asian celebratory themes and the social importance of embroidery in these communities. However, for many of the younger participants both the process and the outcomes were new. The Shamiana project is part of a long tradition of innovative education work at the V&A, who are currently partners with the Irish Museum of Modern Art in a Socrates-funded European transitional project exploring museums’ education practice.

. . .
Commenting on the project, Helen O’Donoghue, Head of the Education and Community Department at IMMA, said: "This international project, which included Irish and Indian women living in Ireland in 1993, is an opportunity to explore the outcomes of a unique project initiated by Shireen Akbar at the V&A. It is particularly relevant in present day Ireland to show these textiles, which deal with cultural diversity and immigration and the role that museums can play in facilitating integration and understanding of the lives of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. The project will act as a springboard for a new collaboration between the IMMA and the Chester Beatty Library and aims to open up both the Museum and the CBL Galleries to new communities living in Ireland."

During the exhibition, IMMA is organising an intensive education and community programme, in association with the Chester Beatty Library, focusing on developing social diversity in Ireland.
Shamiana: Mughal Textiles continues until 18 February 2001.
Opening hours: Tue - Sat 10.00am - 5.30pm
Sun & Bank Holidays 12 noon - 5.30pm
Closed Mondays
23 - 26 December
For further information and images please contact Philomena Byrne or Monica Cullinane at Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999
13 October 2000


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