The latest exhibition at Art Fund Museum of the Year – Firstsite in Colchester – explores narratives around Empire, enslavement, luxury consumerism, and the contemporary relevance of all these issues in our world today, through the colonial history of Indian textiles.
‘Slaves of Fashion: The Singh Twins’, which opens this weekend and runs until September, showcases artworks by the internationally renowned artists, which focus on the relationship between Britain and India, hidden details of Europe’s colonial past and its legacies, including current debates around ethical trade, responsible consumerism and decolonisation, and racism.
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The artists explain: “If you care about the environment and you care about human rights, then you should really care about what you put in your shopping basket too, and that’s partly what the message of these works is, but it’s also about showing how we are all connected through our colonial past and how our understanding of global narratives around Empire can help us to see ourselves and the world around us in a new light.”
Primarily known for their hand-painted work in a modern development of the Indian miniature tradition, The Singh Twins’ latest work combines traditional hand-painting techniques with historical archival material and digitally created imagery. The exhibition features two significant bodies of work from their ‘Slaves of Fashion’ series produced over the past five years. Supported by a wealth of material that documents the artists’ process from an archive of original historical objects and documents which have inspired the work on display, to original drawings, time lapse video of work in progress and three artist films.
Sally Shaw MBE, Director of Firstsite, says: “We’re really excited to be able to host this vast, colourful exhibition from The Singh Twins that poses such important questions about equity, sustainability and the climate crisis.
“This exhibition offers us an opportunity to explore wider societal issues through art and we are hoping this show will fire the imagination, raise awareness of hidden histories and help us all think creatively about how we as a community can address these issues.”
The exhibition is supported by the Essex Cultural Diversity Project (ECDP) and its Creative Director & CEO, Indi Sandhu added: “This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of internationally renowned artists The Singh Twins at Firstsite.
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“Their artwork focuses on key issues facing our world today and highlights the need for change.”
Included are 11 digital fabric artworks displayed on lightboxes, with each one highlighting a different theme relating to India’s textile industry. Driven by a number of artworks on paper, it also explores present-day debates about industry and globalisation, fair labour and equal pay,pollution and climate change, corporate politics and business ethics.