Social Fabric: African Textiles Today
23 May to 6 September 2015
Social Fabric is exploration of the history, manufacture and social significance of African printed and factory-woven textiles. The designs mirror the convergence of African tastes and patronage with strong historical and contemporary trading ties from across the globe. These textiles have also influenced some of the region’s foremost contemporary artists and photographers.
Social Fabric shows examples from eastern and southern Africa including kanga from Kenya and Tanzania, capulana from Mozambique, and shweshwe from southern Africa. These cloths have the ability to mirror changing times, fashions and tastes. They provide a detailed chronology of the social, political, religious, emotional and sexual concerns of the (mainly) women who wear them. Their patterns and inscriptions vary according to the age of the wearer and the context in which the cloth is worn. Their unspoken language may be used to suggest thoughts and feelings which cannot be spoken. They are worn in secular and sacred contexts and play a central role in all of the major rite-of-passage ceremonies in women’s and, in some cases, men’s lives.
A British Museum touring exhibition. Supported by the John Ellerman Foundation.
From time to time the galleries will be closed for special events; please check before travelling.