fabric under my skin

Interwoven both materially and historically, Birmingham, Dhaka, and Lahore are three geographical spaces that share a history of textiles.

Cotton, fabric, dyes - water, canals, agriculture, factories - the chain of processes to make textiles has long been heavy with colonial politics and has been part of colonial littoral trade that fuses together histories of the Sub-continent with the UK. From ousting the last Maharaja of Lahore by the British, that led to laying of the canal colonies in Punjab for growing cotton. Calico was the material first to be traded out of Sindh by British merchants to the Gulf. Indigo farmers being forced and maimed to grow indigo and muslin fabric annihilated in Bengal. Textile industrial growth in Birmingham and Manchester using cotton and labour from India. The roots of fast fashion, textile waste and sweatshops are rooted far back into colonial trade, forced farming, slavery and extraction of raw materials as well as people. The insatiable demand for fashion has been detrimental not only to the environment but also to the human body that is forced into labour. The Maharajah, exiled to Uk to curtail local leadership, was a beginning of exodus of people leaving for the diaspora in hope for brighter futures. We weave together a history through loss of home, stunting of vernacular knowledge and textile industry.

Shaheen Ahmed (Birmingham)
Tahia Farhin Haque (Dhaka)
Saba Khan (Lahore)

Fabric Under My Skin is part of Transforming Narratives, a ground-breaking international programme that links creative practitioners and organisations in Birmingham, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The programme aims to create a platform for new and emerging artistic voices, leading to meaningful and long-lasting relationships between the three spaces. Transforming Narratives is managed by Culture Central, supported by Arts Council England and delivered in association with The British Council. Find out more at transformingnarratives.com.

Transforming Narratives Mela and Symposium
An online festival with new work, critical discussion and reflections, the Transforming Narratives way
19-21 March
The Transforming Narratives Mela and Symposium is a three day celebration of contemporary arts and culture in Birmingham, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Bringing together artists, organisations and audiences, the Mela and Symposium is a platform for new art, music, film, critical discussion and reflection.

Transforming Narratives is an international programme, supporting creative and cultural practitioners and cultural organisations in Birmingham to engage in cultural and creative exchange with artists and organisations in cities in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is organised by Culture Central in partnership with the British Council and Arts Council England.

The Transforming Narratives Mela & Symposium is part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Full details at www.transformingnarratives.com