Roots and Changes - Gujarati Diasporic Influences

Key information

11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Brunei Gallery
BG01, BG02

About this event


SOAS SAHM festival 'Journeys of Empire and Dispersed Diasporas' offers a unique social space in the Brunei Gallery rooms (BG01/02) 'hangout' sessions where one can relax to have a bite, meet festival friends, watch the social media buzz on screen and enjoy bespoke demonstrations throughout the day by leading artists.

Join us in the late morning/afternoon to witness, hear and learn about South Asian heritage arts through the lens of migration and journeys. The craft demonstrations reveal the ‘Gujarati story of a successful migration, replete with images of labour and leisure patterns that showcases homeland Gujarat as a region shaped by the journeys of the Empire -- trade, colonialism, education and skills exchanges. Warps and Wefts of Cotton yarns of Gujarat connecting cultures and communities reveal the unknown port journeys of hand-spun cotton made by skilful artisans to Africa, Europe and the Middle East. With the fabric came other exotic items like beads, mirror works and body art that are lesser-known and have shaped diasporic community engagement.


Committed to sustainability in what we eat and wear, Asha Buch will demonstrate hand spinning on the Charkha box – the amazing simple wheels designed by Gandhi which enabled everyone in India to spin their own cotton. Saumya Singh will demonstrate how to spin wool on the charkha; how fibres are spun into yarn. Dutch-born Erna Janine living in Gloucestershire will demonstrate handloom weaving on portable looms with a variety of yarns.

Mirror Embroidery, also known as sheesha and abhala-bharat is demonstrated by Priya Patel that has gathered attention in international fashion for its intricate pattern and aesthetic perfection.
Beadweaver Nayna Chhatralia will demonstrate how to weave tiny beads into exotic items.

More than just a temporary tattoo, the mehndi demonstrated by Sonal Patel offers us a way to participate in a centuries-old tradition of body art that is still practised in Gujarat and is a source for transformative indigenous design in the creative industries.


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Contributions to the SOAS SAHM festival demonstrations are by Lata Desai and resources supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the multi-dimensional exhibition and series of events charting the historical journey of the Gujarati community and celebrating its rich cultural heritage.

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