Cashmere from Kashmir ― Indian textiles displayed at a new exhibition at ULITA

A temporary display at ULITA ― an Archive of International Textiles marks the last in a series celebrating the 150th year anniversary of Professor Aldred Barker.

Open to the public until 13 December 2018, it explores the handcrafted textiles and craftmanship of India based on Barker’s travels to Kashmir in 1931.

Professor Aldred Barker (1868 – 1964) studied and taught textiles at the University of Leeds, eventually becoming the Chair of Textile Industries in 1914. Barker’s interest in the textile industry led him to travel to Europe, the Americas, South Africa, India and the Far East.

He was invited to Kashmir by the Maharajah (‘great king’ or ‘high king’) of Jammu and Kashmir. While he was there, he studied sheep-breeding and Indian wool and became interested in local Indian textile industries. He investigated how they functioned and discussed it in The Cottage Textile Industries of Kashmir.

This publication has led four postgraduate students from the MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies and MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies courses to focus a display on the Indian textiles that Barker may have seen whilst writing his book. The display itself features Kashmir shawl samples, beautifully handcrafted textile fragments and Barker’s publication itself.

Yaxian Shi, a student from the MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies course, said:

“Through working on this project, I got the chance to know more about Indian textiles through contact with direct materials. It’s fascinating. Every textile from this exhibition has its own history, which was quite exciting for me to explore and tell other people. This was all thanks to Professor Barker’s research.”

Jill Winder, Curator at ULITA ― an Archive of International Textiles, said:

“It's always interesting to see how students will interpret display briefs, and how they approach historic themes without prior knowledge of the subject. Bringing the work of Barker in India to life has been a great project for ULITA.”

The display is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken this term by MA students in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of their courses.

All ten projects will be showcased at an event on 13 December, with opportunities for guests to take guided tours of exhibitions across campus and to attend a celebration event from 5.00 to 7.00pm. More information can be found here.

Image: Kashmiri shawl pattern sample, ULITA2009.119.14. Courtesy of ULITA — an Archive of International Textiles.