This project explored the ways in which it is possible to
reference and celebrate the shared histories of Britain and India, with a
specific focus on the pattern cutting and construction methodology of Indian
menswear, and its application to contemporary womenswear design.
In 2008 Welsh took part in an Arts Council funded project
‘Design Camp’ in Ahmedabad, India. She travelled to the Ribari tribal villages
of Kutch, where there is a rich heritage and knowledge of textiles, which
provided her with an insight into the textiles of the region. Welsh visited manufacturers and makers in the
context of their working environments, in order to formulate an understanding
of current manufacturing techniques and practices in Gujarat.
‘Design Camp’ was followed up by further investigation into
the pattern cutting methods utilised to construct traditional 18th century
Gujarati menswear garments, Jamas and Angarakhas. Additional research into the
detailing of traditional Indian costume was undertaken in the Asian Department
of the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the Calico Museum of Textiles in
Ahmedabad and in the Pahari Miniature
Paintings Collection at the Gujarat Museum Ahmedabad
Welsh followed up this investigation by translating these
garments into contemporary womenswear, focusing on fusing the menswear pattern
cutting methods developed in India during the 18th century with contemporary
British construction methods.
The research culminated in Revive, a dress that Welsh made
for The Power of Copying exhibition in at Xuzhou Museum of Art. China. The
exhibition focused on creative re-production, developing new ways of learning
through “imitation, representation, inheritance, memorization, reproduction,
appropriation, transformation, and creation” . The dress referenced a vintage
Indian Jama, sourced in Ahmedabad, and was hung alongside the ‘original’.
Revive was made from a selection of translucent cotton fabrics, which were
printed with a range of traditional Gujarati block prints. The understated
white on white patterns combined with layered and pieced ‘sectioning’
re-created the subtleties of an Indian ‘Jama’ garment in a contemporary
Exhibited at Xuzhou Museum of Art, Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province,
China 14 May - 10 July 2010