Friday, October 26, 2012

Sewing Creativity with Fibre Art

By Radhika
Photography: Courtesy the artists

One of Anita Dube's most famous works Aah

Recent fibre art exhibitions in India and abroad bring to the forefront interesting methods and experiments that artists undertake to create art with threads, needles and fibres.

Look at it perceptively and you will see a burnt forest or a decades-old sunken ship or a site in outer space, perhaps; pull yourself away from your musings and observe objectively - you will see this finely woven web of charred black threads, strewn with ash covering black cylinders! This is artist Parul Thacker’s recent work – a wall installation titled ‘Black Hole’.

Black Hole by Parul Thacker

Having begun her artistic career as a weaver, this textile design graduate helped traditional weavers invent new weaving techniques. In 2006, she made the transition to creating sculptures and installations with threads, where she recreates her imagery of spaces in the cosmos by weaving and embroidering threads, crystals and nylon monofilament fibres. She invents her own weaves to create her works, which have been showcased at Austria, Australia, Germany and Italy.

Holy Ash by Parul Thacker

Parul’s works using needles, threads and fibre falls under the broad category of fibre art. While many renowned Indian artists such as Sheila Gowda, Anita Dube and Meera Mukherjee have created fibre art in the past, three recent exhibitions by young artists, using fibre as a medium at Zurich in October; Mumbai in September and Berlin in June; along with a fibre art show at Art Hongkong in May 2012, has brought to the forefront, the various techniques used by Indian artists to create fibre art.

In Mumbai, artist Smiriti Dixit, exhibited her woven quilts, where she stitched together Swastik, red colour square clothes with golden borders, colourful threads and stuff being sold outside most temples in India, as a collage of her visual memories of these places.

Fibre Art by Smriti Dixit

Delhi-based artist Ranjith Raman, who started sewing on canvas in 2006 after a decade of dabbling with oil paintings, creates landscapes and abstract paintings using chain stitch, button stitch and blanket stitch.

Patchwork and hand embroidery on linen by Ranjith Raman

It is not the metaphors of pain and healing, femininity and womanhood associated with stitching and fibre art that make Raman use the medium to create his works. He enjoys the process of stitching, and stitches for ten hours every day. “Stitching is like a prayer to me,” says Raman. He stitches from end to end on cotton cloth, and creates several layers of stitches in his works. His framed works often give an impression of painted brush strokes, when viewed from a distance.

Patchwork and hand embroidery on cotton cloth  by Ranjith Raman

Mumbai-based Manish Nai, too started experimenting with jute when his father’s jute business ran into heavy losses in 2001. Manish started by painting water colours on jute; and in 2003, discovered coloured jute. He stuck the fibre on a painted canvas and started pulling out threads from jute patches of different sizes and shapes, with a thin forceps. 

Natural and dyed jute, gateway paper and paint on canvas by Manish Nai

Three years later, Manish discovered the technique of making fibre sculptures by compressing threads. Manish had stored all the jute threads that he had plucked in three years in a square box. He poured water in the box and after several days, the threads became one solid square, with various textures. Threads later made way for old newspapers and clothes. Manish’s artistic practice focuses on experimentation and the process of discovering a new technique and medium to create art. 

Object in jute thread by Manish Nai


  1. Appreciate it for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting info.

  2. Silvia-Tamira PowellNovember 6, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Very interesting methods. I really love the display. I wished I would had seen it in person.

  3. I enjoy gathering useful information; this post has got me even more info!

  4. Great depth in design.


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