David Mabb: Morris in Jaipur. The Work of Art in the Context of Hand-made Reproduction.
A collaborative project between David Mabb, Nature Morte and Anokhi, supported by the British Council, originally made for the 2005 Jaipur Heritage International Festival.
The Queens Gallery, British Council,
17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delh, 110001 India
Tel: (91-11) 2371 1401
You are invited to the private view on 18th March between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m.
The exhibition continues from 19th March to 8th April, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily (except Sundays and holidays).
David Mabb has been working with the textile and wallpaper designs of 19th Century English interior designer, writer and activist William Morris for about eight years. Mabb’s interest in Morris and his designs stems from the social and political implications of Morris’ work, the continued relevancy of Morris’ politics and the continuing market for Morris’ designs. Many of Mabb’s interpretations or reconfigurations of Morris’ designs have foregrounded the relationship between Morris’ own utopian thinking and other enlightened forms of cultural production. Most recently, Mabb has organised an exhibition of Morris’ work for the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, UK.
On the invitation of Peter Nagy, the director of Gallery Nature Morte in New Delhi, Mabb visited Jaipur in order to devise a project that could be featured as part of the annual Jaipur Heritage International Festival. Intrigued by both the on-going traditions of craftsmanship found in Rajasthan and the similarities between the block-printed fabric designs found in Jaipur and the designs of Morris, Mabb proposed an exhibition, which combines a number of different art forms.
Rajendra Sharma, a Jaipur miniature painter whose education has predominantly focused on the art of copying, has painted a small retrospective of David Mabb’s paintings, which use William Morris fabrics as their beginnings. Sharma was given eight digital prints selected from different groups of Mabb’s large paintings. In one group of works Mabb has painted out elements of William Morris’ patterns, in another he has painted industrial images around Morris’ patterns and in a third he has painted images of Russian peasants around the patterns. The miniature paintings are shown in beaten and patterned tin frames commissioned in Jaipur.
Mabb has also simplified and adapted three William Morris designs. They have been woodblock printed onto khadi, in collaboration with the Jaipur textile firm Anokhi and have been used to make three groups of artworks. Firstly, a Sherwani Suit, a sari and a salwar-kameez made from the fabrics are shown on mannequins in the exhibition. They are also modelled by Mabb and his associates in black and white photographs shot in the Mandawa Haveli, Jaipur. Secondly the block-printed fabrics have been over-painted by a Jaipur sign painter with interpretations of fabric designs by the Russian artist and designer from the 1920s, Luibov Popova. Thirdly, two quilts have been designed from the same block-printed textiles using traditional techniques.
David Mabb is an artist who lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include: The Decorating Business, Oakville Galleries, Ontario 2000; The Hall of the Modern, The Economist, London; A Factory As It Might Be or The Hall Of Flowers, Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario, 2003; "Ministering to the Swinish Luxury of the Rich", Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2004.
A catalogue documenting the exhibition and its multiple elements has been produced by Nature Morte for the exhibition at the Queens Gallery, The British Council, New Dehli. The catalogue utilises the fabric printed by Anokhi for the project to make the cover, recalling a typical Rajasthani accounts book.