Mulana - the art of people

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Mulana - the art of people An exhibition of tapestries and project materials from a community arts collaboration between Sunshine International Arts, The Natural History Museum London, Wellington…

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Mulana - the art of people

An exhibition of tapestries and project materials from a community arts collaboration between Sunshine International Arts, The Natural History Museum London, Wellington Arts Centre, and the women artisans of Mulana Rajasthan, West India.

17 - 31 January
Wellington Arts Centre Galley
61 Abel Smith StreetMulana - the art of people

An exhibition of tapestries and project materials from a community arts collaboration between Sunshine International Arts, The Natural History Museum London, Wellington Arts Centre, and the women artisans of Mulana Rajasthan, West India.

17 - 31 January
Wellington Arts Centre Galley
61 Abel Smith StreetThis unique multi-cultural project, directed by artist Ray Mahabir of the UK-based Sunshine International Arts, presents new designs by West London youth and tapestries created by women artisans from the Mulana village in India. The exhibition includes three 5 x 10 foot tapestries and display panels documenting the workshops and embroidering process. While in Wellington, Mahabir will offer workshops to creative groups and youth, to expand the multi-cultural reach of the Mulana project.

New designs created here in Wellington will then be embroidered in India by the end of 2006. They will join the others and continue to tour as the Mulana tapestries. The project will continue to grow, travel, and touch different cultures. The work exhibited at Wellington Arts Centre will be displayed at London's Natural History Museum in April 2006, along with further display panels about the project's global connections. Project support in Wellington has been generously provided by the AsiaNZ Foundation's cultural programmes.

While in Wellington, Mahabir will offer several workshops to expand the Mulana project and connect it to New Zealand. Wellington City Council Arts Programmes Manager, Eric Holowacz, is currently seeking groups or organisations interested in participating and creating new design elements for the village artisans to embroider.

The public is invited to an opening reception with artist Ray Mahabir, and special welcome by Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, on Thursday 19 January from 5 to 7pm. The function is generously sponsored by Mac's Beer, the finest ales in New Zealand and a dedicated champion of creative Kiwis everywhere.

For details and information, contact
Eric Holowacz
Arts Programmes & Services Manager
Wellington Arts Centre / Wellington City Council
385-1904
arts@wcc.govt.nz

PROJECT BACKGROUND
MULANA 'the art of people' 2005/06

A global project and exhibition of embroidered wall hangings designed in london and made in India by the women artisans of the village Mulana, Jaisalmer (Western India).

"MULANA:the art of people" is a project initiated by Ray Mahabir, a renowned Trinidadian textile designer of Indian descent, currently working in the United Kingdom as a Carnival artist. Mahabir has spent the last five years working with Mulana artisans studying and documenting the history of the village artisans of Mulana and the types of traditional embroidery stitches used by the women.

Using his expertise as a designer, Mahabir has introduced new patterns, colours and methods as the basis for creating more innovative work. Traditional stitches and designs were being lost, as this art form is primarily handed down from mother to daughter. Sadly, most of the artisans now work for the tourist market, where low-quality craftsmanship and pay are the norm.

"Mulana: the art of people" exhibitions are used as documents to raise awareness of these village artisans, their work and the harsh terrain they live in. Embroidery is the only means of livelihood for most of the women and their extended families, Sunshine International Arts continues to work to increase skill development, quality awareness and also create incomes for these families where every one is respected and paid at a fair wage for craftsmanship. The Wellington Arts Centre exhibition is the New Zealand debut of "Mulana: the art of people."

Entitled "WHY 2005/06" this body of work has been designed and co-produced with London's Natural History Museum, Lancaster Youth Centre, and Sunshine International Arts. Is the first of its kind, and an experiment in international creative connections: Street Art meets Village Art, graffiti transformed through embroidery, a marriage of cultures and arts.

The New Audiences Team at the Natural History Museum have been working with a group of local youths in the effort to highlight the ethnic diversity of the Museum visitors and the diverse nature of the collection. Trinidadian textile artist, Ray Mahabir joined the team to lead the Black History Month youth design project, which provided the beginnings for this exhibition. Mahabir built the project around young people from a range of ethnic minority background --- Moroccan, Iraqi, Afro-Caribbean, Greek Cypriot and mix culture heritage --- all living in the same area in London. He asked them "What does Black History mean to you?" The result was a recurrence of the word, Why. Why is it called black history month? Why does the museum own all these artefacts from all over the world? Why is there a division in the world? Why are there wars?

Mahabir encouraged the young people to sketch a part of the Museum's collection, and find a connection to their questions and identity. Their sketches were then transferred onto textile banners, illustrating the young people's favourite aspects of the Museum and the symbols they identified closely with. At the end of 2005, Mahabir took the hangings to Mulana, the village in India where local women artisans embroidered the young people's designs.

The Wellington Arts Centre is pleased to be a new partner with Mahabir and the Mulana project. The WHY 2005/06 exhibition will be on view from 17 to 31 January in the New Zealand capital, with an opening reception on Thursday 19 January from 5 to 7pm. The three initial tapestries, making their debut in New Zealand, will then be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London this April.

Mahabir's Wellington workshops will foster designs and elements for the next series of tapestries to be embroidered by the Mulana village artisans. Three New Zealand-made designs will become the second stage of the project, and continue to tour teh world. Additional workshops are planned for London in 2006, and a total of six new tapestries will be embroidered in India in November/December 2006. These will be exhibited in 2007 in Blacktown NSW Australia, and then return for another presentation in New Zealand. And beyond that, the Mulana project will continue to connect people, communities, and creativity from continent to continent.

For more information on Sunshine International Arts and Ray Mahabir:
sunshineiarts@aol.com
www.sunshine-international-arts.co.uk

Written by

Eric Vaughn Holowacz

23 Jan 2006

Eric Vaughn Holowacz was born in Princeton, New Jersey and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Irmo High School, and was a member of its National Championship academic Quiz Bowl Team in 1986.