The Project

The project envisages a collaboration between creative practitioners in Melbourne and New Delhi, India:

To produce a 50 metre long cloth ‘mural’ or ‘tapestry’ narrating stories from women’s experiences of maternity and childbirth in rural India.

1st probe

Two previous works inform the current project : one, a detailed drawing on cloth depicting the maternal health ecosystem in rural India was used as a device to engage women in remote rural poor communities in Assam (India) in conversation. The cloth, a cultural probe, deflected the gaze and so was successful in producing a free flowing recounting of events from women.

santhal woman

Two, in 2012 an illustrator was commissioned to produce similar cultural probes upon 5 themes for future engagements with women in remote rural communities. These pieces have been submitted for exhibition to Craft Cubed 2013 (An annual event of Craft Victoria). The proposed project “Speaking Cloth” builds upon these past works and aims to depict the collective experiences of childbirth in rural and poor communities in India. Through being exhibited in galleries the cloth aims to provoke an appreciation and a respect for the maternal health condition seen from the eyes of marginalized women. The “speaking cloth” draws upon the mode of the story telling tapestry to portray a contemporary situation – rural Indian women’s collective experiences of childbirth.

Emerging from the 5 probes that were illustrated by a Melbourne based designer is the notion of visual narratives (image on left). I have since early 2012 been working with an Indian Textile artist to set up a project to get remote-rural-poor crafts women to do similar paintings. These paintings are their stories – telling of their experiences of their childbirth experiences and of incidents in their community. These works are a way for the “voices” of these women, and the stories from remote rural communities, to be heard in urban centres through exhibitions of their works. (This transnational collaboration is the subject of a grant application being developed for submission to the Australia India Institute). I arrived at this project – of visual narratives – because of the dissatisfaction I felt upon reading all the texts on the subject of Maternal Health in India. Words are a great vehicle for urban educated – but as ‘technical vocabulary’ they also become the very instruments that disenfranchise the lived experience of pregnant women.

And here is the question – how can these women speak so that they are heard, so that their voices are heard in all their complexity and not in a simplified way that fits into current public health theory?

My answer is to use the gallery, the exhibition space in urban centres as the stage where these voices are expressed. The aesthetics and form of the story will go a long way in retaining the details in the narratives. By becoming images the meaning embedded in these works is not reducible to “formulaic problems”. This format (gallery) and this location (urban) is one part of the project focussed upon contributing a unique dimension – the perspective of remote rural poor women – to the policy discourse surrounding maternal deaths in communities distant from urban centres. India is the country with the highest incidence of maternal mortality in the world.

The collaborators are – a creative practitioner from RMIT University, a textile artist from New Delhi and a Melbourne based Artist-Illustrator. In addition the project will involve traditional crafts people in New Delhi, textile technicians (working in the computer embroidery Laboratory at RMIT Textiles) and external textile facilities in Melbourne and New Delhi for Printing and dyeing. In addition the project will utilize facilities in New Delhi ( the studio of Mr Bheda) and Melbourne (RMIT Industrial Design, the Design Hub and RMIT textiles workshops).

Additional Resources

The project seeks funding from the Australia Council for the key component of:

1. Fees for the artist and craftspersons to enable them to commit time to the ‘making’ component of the project. The contribution of Soumitri Varadarajan is an in-kind contribution from RMIT University.

2. Mobility costs for travel and accommodation to enable the collaboration to happen with the artists physically co-located in Melbourne and New Delhi.

The project will seek additional resources from the following sources:

1. Australia India Institute: The Australia India Institute has expressed an interest in being involved in efforts orientated towards engaging with Maternal Health in India. At the moment of writing this EOI I have been in discussion with the Australia India Institute for some time to define a creative practice approach in the space of Maternal Health that accords with the programme needs of the Institute. The drawings and outcomes of the probes have been shown to the institute and I am hopeful that I will be able to secure additional funding for the project targeted towards a travelling exhibition.

2. City of Melbourne: I have in 2012 undertaken a project funded by the City of Melbourne funded under their India engagement charter. I aim to seek additional funding from the City of Melbourne for local hospitality and expenses for the Melbourne workshop.

3. RMIT University: I will seek to obtain inkind support from RMIT in the form of access to the printing and computer embroidery facilities at cost. I will also obtain event venue from RMIT University as an in-kind contribution to the project.

4. India: I will seek to get inkind support from a few organizations in India to host the India events. This would include accommodation and venue being supplied by the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Venue for events in New Delhi from the India International Centre and India Habitat Centre to be obtained as inkind support. Also inkind support for venue and accommodation in Bangalore from the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology.

Programme

Melbourne events

1. Master Class: At RMIT textiles and/or Victorian tapestry workshop on the large tapestry/embroidery pieces

2. Bheda Artist Talk: Public talk at Australia India Institute/ RMIT Design Research Institute- Design Hub.

3. Studio tours: Visits to textile artists and hand work studios in Melbourne.

4. Airing the Project: Showing the project in sketches and talking the project. Public engagement with RMIT Midwifery and community health researchers, Nossal Institute community health researchers and women’s health activists. RMIT Design Hub or Royal Women’s Hospital or Sunshine Hospital.

5. Exhibition of Tapestry (Completed work)

India Events

1. Master Class: At National Institute of Fashion Technology (New Delhi) &/or National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad) &/or Srishti SADT (Bangalore)

2. Gaur Artist Talk: India Habitat Centre

3. Airing the Project: Showing the project in development and talking the project. Public engagement with White Ribbon Alliance (New Delhi), UNICEF, Indian Institute of Public Health and women’s health activists.

5. Exhibition of Tapestry (Completed work)

Media and Performance

Online Presence

The Speaking Cloth project will be represented through a website and social media as an evolving programme inviting people to view piece as it develops and join the journey at the events in Melbourne and potentially 3 cities in India. It is imagined that the website and social media presence will generate a community of viewers who will be invited to engage with the final piece at the Exhibitions in India and Australia.

Exhibition Programme

The project imagines one gallery showing in New Delhi and Melbourne each initially. After this the piece will be retained in Melbourne and shared for display with Galleries as a travelling exhibition.The project envisages a travelling exhibition that stops at key places to conduct a conversation (as a workshop or symposium even). This event is a reading of the stories from the cloths – a conversation that aims to look at maternal health from the perspective of the women.

Encounters

Each display is imagined as a provocation to initiate a conversation between women’s health activists, policy people and civil society on the evolving nature of interventions in the space of maternal health. Once the pieces are produced – the next activity is the performance. The project envisages a travelling exhibition that stops at key places to conduct a conversation (as a workshop or symposium even). This event is a reading of the stories from the cloths – a conversation that aims to look at maternal health from the perspective of the women. Finally arriving at an understanding about the complexity of the maternal health ecosystem.

Re Experience in The Media and Performance component of the project: This will be a variation on how my previous project The BookWallah Projet was run – using an online ‘broadsheet’, facebook and twitter. (See http://www.thebookwallah.com/)

Bio – Soumitri Varadarajan

(RMIT University, Melbourne)

Soumitri Varadarajan is Deputy Dean (Industrial and Interior Design) at RMIT University. His creative practice deals with re-imagining mass produced materiality. As part of his work within the research group “Mediated Body” he focuses upon the construction of (faux) materiality as theoretical provocations in health and sustainability. The provocations are aired online as a ‘campaign’ to infect the viewer with improbably notions, as a way to loosen notions of the “right way”. His work is infused with cultural and social research often containing hidden-meanings which are designed to remain secretive and unknown, to await unraveling. His body related work has taken him on field work to remote rural communities to sit down women and listen to them tell of their experiences of childbirth. These collected stories have instilled in him a suspicion of large scale focussed upon changing the way these women think about their bodies and how they act out their experiences of pregnancy. Another recent work deals with the design and construction of a travelling “literary festival” – The Book Wallah. The project, containing an infusion of multiple narratives, involved the construction of bespoke bookcases using hi-tech digital fabrication, which are then covered with kangaroo leather so that it easily degrades and pick up scuffs and signs of travelling.

The images below are of cloth “probes” developed for use in rural community settings – as a cloth spread on the ground to initiate a conversation. (2010)

BoNi BoNi_Detail MyFirstPeriod

A reinterpretation of the pinard horn to give the mother a way to listed to the foetus. (Ceramic slip cast, 2012)

IMG_0747 IMG_0746

Below are images of “journalling” pieces – these are examples of ways of keeping a record of events during a pregnancy. (Laser cut mdf and thread, 2012)

photo

journalIMG_0741IMG_0745 IMG_0744

The images below are from the field trip to Assam. The trip collected stories about women’s experiences of maternity and childbirth in remote and rural areas.

women fishing TISS field workersanthal woman

The images below are of the travelling library. THE BOOK WALLAH PROJECT can also be seen at – http://www.thebookwallah.com/

TheBookWallah_DesignHub-15 TheBookWallah_DesignHub-5 TheBookWallah_DesignHub-4 bookwallah1

Bio – Chandrashekhar Bheda

(New Delhi)

Chandu is a New Delhi based textile artist. Trained as a textile artist Bheda has for decades worked with craft communities to develop new designs for their work.At the same time he has worked upon commissions for mass production fabric houses. He blends his knowledge of contemporary technology with his vast experience of traditional textile cratfs. He executes fabric murals in huge sizes referencing textile crafts as a integral component of his narrative. The pieces he produces have allegorical references to Indian myths and lore interwoven with secrets and personal anecdotes. The pieces he conceives are sketched digitally modified/transformed/ printed and then extensively worked upon by different craftspeople who use traditional craft techniques to sew into/onto the base fabric a layer of meaning. Focussed upon navigating contemporary visual (responses/ projection/imagery) his work forces multiple evocations through a dense layering of motifs, meanings and tradition in textile materiality. His pieces are controlled and directed as a project on a large scale. His artworks have graced the walls of architect built spaces. See also images of sample of crafts used in Bheda’s work here (http://speakingcloth.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/sample-crafts-used-by-bheda/).

The work below shows the stages of development of a cloth piece – on a mythological theme. This a figurative work. You can click on the images to see the images enlarged.

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_2

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_3

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_4

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_5

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_6

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_7

The images below show examples of abstract, geometric pieces installed.

5

1

Bio – Sophie Gaur

Sophie Gaur is a Melbourne based artist and illustrator. She runs an independent studio focussed upon illustration and graphic design. Her illustration work has been figurative such as the digital illustration of a range of Australian native flora and fauna – which were then used to pepper a variety of graphic products. In her practice she engages with ‘making’ – as in hand-binding books using traditional materials and techniques, she makes pin-hole cameras and experiments with image creation. As a sessional lecturer she teaches ‘thing speak’ a course on meaning in material objects. Her recent work uses biro drawings on paper as the base for a digital modification and illustration of poetry. She has recently worked upon on the theme of women’s bodies and maternal health to produce five narrative cloth works for exhibition.

The two figures below are for a book on poetry on the theme of silk-worm. The media here is biro pen drawings, scanned and digitally transformed. Click on image to see enlarged image.

sample1

sample2

The image below is an abstract composition for an orchestra tour.

sample10

The two images below are illustration of Australian flora and fauna, composed into a natural setting.

In the background can be seen the Collingwood Town Hall.

SAMPLE4

sample3

The following drawings are the cloth probes. The first one below is on the theme of 280 days  – the period of pregnancy. The circles define a journal – and speak about an alternative way to remember the daily events during the course of a pregnancy.

sample9

fresco2

The drawings below are details from the piece on the theme of puberty and menstruation.

sample8

frescoDetail

 

Construction

Construction, Design and Technique

The artists involved have a shared way of developing the designs. This proceeds from initial hand sketches and planning, which are then imported into adobe Illustrator to refine and clean up

The design of the panel will be developed on paper, in instances as a sketch or even a full painting. The design will be digitally scanned and transferred (digital print) to cloth. The embroidery will be as hand work or computer generated on top of the print on cloth.

The cloth will be constructed in pieces based on a scheme of development – where each painting will be a panel executed individually. The panes will be brought together and sewn onto to a backing cloth at the appropriate positon.

Stitching, sewing and embroidery on top of the digital print is the way the layers will be built up.

Shri Vishnudashavtara by Chandrashekhar Bheda_Page_7

Narrative

Events/ (Stories) depicted

The tapestry layout follows the rites of passage from left to right. On the left will be the narrative till the point of conception, with the middle section being an expansion of the period of pregnancy, with the section on the right being the period after childbirth.

In first instance the cloth made for conversation aimed to draw and depict the ‘health ecosystem’ in its entirety. The subsequent pieces took up the topics separately. These were themes such as:

Menstruation and puberty; focussed upon the context and experiences of a young woman or often the transformation of a girl into a potential bride. The cloth contained a pattern for the making of cloth pads.

280 Days; a pictorial depiction of the period of pregnancy, 9 months or 280 days. The drawing depicts a journal like conception of development and evolution of the body towards birth.

26 moons; dealt with the period after childbirth and the needs of the mother in her period of recovery from childbirth. 26 moons refers to both a potential period of breast feeding, or the period of gap needed between pregnancies for the body to fully recover. This cloth is for the conversation with men, and so is a narrative with a different potential for treatment.

Layout

The work will be embroidery (hand and digital) done on a base cloth (cotton). The size of the full piece will be 1mx50m. The work will be made up of panels 600×600, with a border (150 wide) at the top and bottom of the piece. Each panel will be an event, story or relate a rite/myth/ practice.

Re Tapestry: While not strictly a tapestry, it customary to refer to such large story telling cloth murals as ‘tapestry’.

The preliminary layout follows on from the notion of rites of passage – from puberty to childbirth in this instance – from left to right. This was the format of the cloth that I used in conversations during my field trip in Assam, India.

1st probe

In the image the various triggers for stories and events can be encountered as people (stakeholders), and as places (hospitals) or as events (conception, childbirth). Each event, person or location has a story, a practice, or a ritual associated with it – each potentially a topic for a panel.

 

Sample of traditional Crafts used in Bheda’s work

Below are three examples of traditional crafts used by Bheda.

madhubani-29size-60-x-35_price-38_000 Madhubani Craft

SriKalahasti_KalamkariKalamkari Kalahasti

Warli Warli painting

History of Project

The project builds upon previous work being undertaken within the Mediated Body Group at RMIT; a group focussed upon the use of creative practice to develop projects that focus upon creating affordances that mediate the experience of the body. The work of the Mediated Body Group spans a territory from the propositional (new materials and new technological frontiers) to the ethnographic (focussed upon marginalized communities) with a focus upon challenging our ways of looking at the body and bodily experiences. The ideological position aligns the group with the discourse of de-medicalization and it resorts to the privileging of the ‘faint voice’ of people’s experience through material projects exhibited in galleries. One trajectory for some years has been a focus upon women’s experience of their bodies during the period of pregnancy and childbirth.

Related Work – Abstract of Article

Including women’s account of body experiences in health innovations

(Abstract of paper submitted to Conference/ DDEI/ March 2013)

This paper is about a project that works upon getting women to reflect upon their bodily experiences and to draw and paint their experiences as a way to communicate-out their journeys of childbearing. I arrived at this project of visual narratives because of the dissatisfaction I felt upon reading the solutions within texts on the subject of Maternal deaths in poorly serviced contexts. Words are a great vehicle for the urban educated but as ‘technical vocabulary’, through demanding a medicalization of local knowledge of childbearing practices, they also become the very instruments that disenfranchise the lived experience of pregnant women. The research question then was – how can these women speak so that they are heard, so that their voices are heard in all their complexity and not in a simplified way that fits into current medical and public health theory? My answer has been to use the gallery, the exhibition space in urban centres as the stage where these voices are expressed. The first hand-drawn cloth was a cultural probe that was used in field work encounters with women in remote communities in Assam, India. The experience of using the ‘painted cloth’ as a vehicle to incite an outpouring of experiences from affected women and hurt families led to the development of 5 themes of narration. These themes were illustrated for exhibition by a Melbourne based artist where she reflectively drew upon her personal experiences to draw-out her narratives. I have since been working with a New Delhi based Textile artist to set up a project to get remote-rural-poor craftswomen to do similar paintings. These paintings are their stories – telling of their experiences of their childbirth experiences and of incidents in their community. These works are a way for the “voices” of these women, and the stories from remote rural communities, to be heard in urban centres through exhibitions of their works. The aesthetics and form of the story will go a long way in retaining the details in the narratives. By becoming images these narrative works are not reducible, as words often are, to being bracketed  as “formulaic problems”. This format (gallery) and this location (urban) is one part of the project focussed upon contributing a unique dimension that of  the perspective of remote-rural-poor women, to the policy discourse surrounding maternal deaths in communities distant from urban centres. Once the pieces are produced the next activity is the performance. The project envisages a travelling exhibition that stops at key places to conduct a conversation as a workshop, a provocation or a symposium. This event is envisaged to be a reading of the stories from the cloths as a conversation that aims to look at maternal health from the perspective of the women. The amplifying of the voices of remote-rural-poor woman is intended to give health innovators access to the lived experiences of pregnant women and to consider the women as partners and components of the solution ecosystems being developed.

Australia Council Submission TOC

The website can be navigated through the “index of topics” listed below. Click on topic-text below to see relevant page.

The Project  |  Programme  | Additional Resources  |  Media and Performance

Bio – Sophie Gaur |  Bio – Chandrashekhar Bheda  |  Bio – Soumitri Varadarajan

The ‘tapestry’ details: Construction  |  Narrative  |  Layout

Sample of Traditional Crafts used in Bheda’s work

History of Project: A creative arts engagement is an ongoing project since 2010. The text here describes the context of the project.

Related Work – Abstract of Article: The visual capturing of the ‘voice’ of women is the topic of a publication. This is an abstract of an article, submitted to a conference.

Australia Council Submission

The project envisages a collaboration between creative practitioners in Melbourne and New Delhi, India to produce a 50 metre long cloth ‘mural’ or ‘tapestry’ narrating stories from women’s experiences of maternity and childbirth in rural India.

The proposed project “Speaking Cloth” builds upon two past works: one, a detailed drawing on cloth depicting the maternal health ecosystem in rural India was used as a device to engage women in remote rural poor communities in Assam (India) in conversation. This cloth on the ground deflected the gaze and so was successful in producing a free flowing recounting of events from women. Two, in 2012 an illustrator was commissioned to produce drawings based upon 5 themes for future engagements with women in remote rural communities. Emerging from these works is the conviction in the power of visual narratives and the desire to depict the collective experiences of childbirth in rural and poor communities in India as a large painting.

Towards the development of the Speaking Cloth Project I have been in discussion with an Indian Textile artist to set up a project to get remote-rural-poor crafts women to paint – telling of their experiences of their childbirth experiences and of incidents in their community. These works are a way for the “voices” of these women, and the stories from remote rural communities, to be heard in urban centres through exhibitions of their works. Words are a great vehicle for the urban educated but as ‘technical vocabulary’ they also become the very instruments that disenfranchise the lived experience of pregnant women. In the use of the gallery, the exhibition space in urban centres as the stage where these voices are expressed, the aesthetics and form of the story go a long way in retaining the details in the narratives. By becoming images the meaning embedded in these works is not reducible to “formulaic problems”.

The collaborators are – a creative practitioner from RMIT University, a textile artist from New Delhi and a Melbourne based Artist-Illustrator. In addition the project will involve traditional crafts people in New Delhi, textile technicians (working in the computer embroidery Laboratory at RMIT Textiles) and external textile facilities in Melbourne and New Delhi for Printing and dyeing. In addition the project will utilize facilities in New Delhi ( the studio of Mr Bheda) and Melbourne (RMIT Industrial Design, the Design Hub and RMIT textiles workshops).

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The project seeks funding from the Australia Council for the key component of:

1. Fees for the artist and craftspersons to enable them to commit time to the ‘making’ component of the project. The contribution of Soumitri Varadarajan will be an in-kind contribution from RMIT University.

2. Mobility costs for travel and accommodation to enable the collaboration to happen with the artists physically co-located in Melbourne and New Delhi.

The project will seek additional resources from the following sources:

1. Australia India Institute: The Australia India Institute has expressed an interest in being involved in efforts orientated towards engaging with Maternal Health in India. At the moment of writing this EOI I have been in discussion with the Australia India Institute for some time to define a creative practice approach in the space of Maternal Health that accords with the programme needs of the Institute. The drawings and outcomes of the probes have been shown to the institute and I am hopeful that I will be able to secure additional funding for the project targeted towards a travelling exhibition.

2. City of Melbourne: I have in 2012 undertaken a project funded by the City of Melbourne funded under their India engagement charter. I aim to seek additional funding from the City of Melbourne for local hospitality and expenses for the Melbourne workshop.

3. RMIT University: I will seek to obtain in-kind support from RMIT in the form of access to the printing and computer embroidery facilities at cost. I will also obtain event venue from RMIT University as an in-kind contribution to the project.

4. India: I will seek to get in-kind support from a few organizations in India to host the India events. This would include accommodation and venue being supplied by the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Venue for events in New Delhi from the India International Centre and India Habitat Centre to be obtained as in-kind support. Also in-kind support for venue and accommodation in Bangalore from the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology.

PROGRAMME

The project expression imagines a program composed of two kinds of events: one, to plan and execute the tapestry, and two, to facilitate the engagement of the artists with the creative arts communities in Melbourne and New Delhi/India. The ‘engagement/ collaboration’ will have a programme of activities that provide a space for dialogue and interaction of the artists within the communities of practice in Melbourne and New Delhi. The specific events, institutions and the related communities of practice will be as listed below.

Melbourne events

  1. Master Class: At RMIT textiles and/or Victorian tapestry workshop on the large tapestry/embroidery pieces targeted at textile artists.
  2. Bheda Artist Talk: Public talks at these locations Australia India Institute, RMIT Design Research Institute- Design Hub, Craft Victoria.
  3. Studio tours: Visits to textile artists and hand work studios in Melbourne. Visits to fabrication workshops and computer embroidery facilities.
  4. Airing the Project: Showing the project in sketches and talking the project. Public engagement with RMIT Midwifery and community health researchers, Nossal Institute community health researchers and women’s health activists. RMIT Design Hub or Royal Women’s Hospital or Sunshine Hospital.
  5. Exhibition of Tapestry (Completed work), Melbourne, Gallery to be confirmed.

India Events

  1. Master Class: At National Institute of Fashion Technology (New Delhi) &/or National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad) &/or Srishti SADT (Bangalore)
  2. Gaur Artist Talk: India Habitat Centre (New Delhi), India International Centre (New Delhi)
  3. Airing the Project: Showing the project in development and talking the project. Public engagement with White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (New Delhi), UNICEF, Indian Institute of Public Health and women’s health activists.
  4. Exhibition of Tapestry (Completed work), Melbourne, Gallery to be confirmed.

The Making Project

The Project to plan, design and execute the Speaking Cloth will have a programme of activities as follows. These will occur during the day alongside the programme of events (potentially in the evening) in Melbourne and India. The project will consist of independent development and Skype collaboration to discuss the layout envisaged in this proposal and to detail out the layout-design and visual treatment. Once the layout is final the next stage will be the visualisation of the individual panels and the depiction of events and stories/ myths/ practices. A week long workshop in Melbourne is proposed at this stage to work collaboratively to discuss the ‘design’ of the speaking cloth. The drawing and painting of the individual will be undertaken next. Once the drawings/ paintings are completed the next workshop will occur in New Delhi. During this workshop the digital printing will be commissioned and the fabrication of the panels will be undertaken. The planning of the embroidery and the trials of treatment will be done at this workshop.

The Speaking Cloth project will be represented through a website and social media as an evolving programme inviting people to view piece as it develops and join the journey at the events in Melbourne and potentially 3 cities in India. It is imagined that the website and social media presence will generate a community of viewers who will be invited to engage with the final piece at the Exhibitions in India and Australia. The project imagines one gallery showing in New Delhi and Melbourne each initially. After this the piece will be retained in Melbourne and shared for display with Galleries as a travelling exhibition. The project envisages a travelling exhibition that stops at key places to conduct a conversation (as a workshop or symposium even). This event is a reading of the stories from the cloths – a conversation that aims to look at maternal health from the perspective of the women.

Collaborator Bios

SOPHIE GAUR is a Melbourne based artist and illustrator. She runs an independent studio focussed upon illustration and graphic design. Her illustration work has been figurative such as the digital illustration of a range of Australian native flora and fauna – which were then used to pepper a variety of graphic products. Her recent work uses biro drawings on paper as the base for a digital modification and illustration of poetry. She has recently worked upon on the theme of women’s bodies and maternal health to produce five narrative cloth works for exhibition. A sample of her work is posted at this link: http://speakingcloth.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/sample-work-gaur/

CHANDRASHELHAR BHEDA is a New Delhi based textile artist. Trained as a textile artist Bheda has for decades worked with craft communities to develop new designs for their work. At the same time he has worked upon commissions for mass production fabric houses. He blends his knowledge of contemporary technology with his vast experience of traditional textile cratfs. He executes fabric murals in huge sizes referencing textile crafts as a integral component of his narrative. The pieces he produces have allegorical references to Indian myths and lore interwoven with secrets and personal anecdotes. The pieces he conceives are sketched digitally modified/transformed/ printed and then extensively worked upon by different craftspeople who use traditional craft techniques to sew into/onto the base fabric a layer of meaning. Focussed upon navigating contemporary visual (responses/ projection/imagery) his work forces multiple evocations through a dense layering of motifs, meanings and tradition in textile materiality. His pieces are controlled and directed as a project on a large scale. His artworks have graced the walls of architect built spaces. A sample of his work is posted at this link: https://speakingcloth.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/sample-work-bheda/

Facilitator

SOUMITRI VARADARAJAN is Deputy Dean (Industrial and Interior Design) at RMIT University. His creative practice deals with re-imagining mass produced materiality. As part of his work within the research group “Mediated Body” he focuses upon the construction of (faux) materiality as theoretical provocations in health and sustainability. The provocations are aired online as a ‘campaign’ to infect the viewer with improbably notions, as a way to loosen notions of the “right way”. His work is infused with cultural and social research often containing hidden-meanings which are designed to remain secretive and unknown, to await unraveling. His body related work has taken him on field work to remote rural communities to sit down women and listen to them tell of their experiences of childbirth. These collected stories have instilled in him a suspicion of large scale focussed upon changing the way these women think about their bodies and how they act out their experiences of pregnancy. Another recent work deals with the design and construction of a travelling “literary festival” – The Book Wallah. The project, containing an infusion of multiple narratives, involved the construction of bespoke bookcases using hi-tech digital fabrication, which are then covered with kangaroo leather so that it easily degrades and pick up scuffs and signs of travelling. A sample of his work is posted at this link: https://speakingcloth.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/sample-work-varadarajan/