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Silk River - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Silk River Exhibition

Exhibition preview

KEW IS collaborating with acclaimed international outdoor arts organisation, Kinetika, on the ambitious Silk River project, connecting 20 communities along the Thames Estuary and India’s Hooghly River.

Silk River explores the unique relationship between London and Kolkata through community artistic exchange. The fruits of this collaboration are twenty stunning six-meter, hand-painted silk scrolls, ten created in India and ten in the UK.

This year-long international community collaboration between artists will be celebrated by bringing together all twenty hand-painted silk scrolls in a sensational exhibition in the Nash Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from October 22 to October 27, 2017.

The exhibition opens on Sunday, October 22 with a day of activities for under 5s and families, including storytelling sessions, a natural dye workshop, a recipe exchange, dance performances and a collaborative artwork. For more information, click here.

The banner designs themselves are richly coloured and layered, depicting a mixture of landmarks, local personalities and aspects of history, ranging from pop culture in Dartford to a Tudor fort in Tilbury. The banner designed at Kew points to old trade links between the UK and India in the form of Indigo, quinine and silk.

Many of these old trade connections have not survived the test of time, but the Silk River project has delighted in reviving at least one.

With the assistance of the Crafts Council of West Bengal, this has turned out to be a great silk weaving revival project, creating a showcase for a superior quality silk cloth from Murshidabad. In fact, the silk for the banners was hand woven on looms that had not been used in recent memory and only contains silk threads from that locality, not from other parts of India or indeed the world. More information on the silk is available here.

Silk River is an ambitious project which explores the unique relationship between London and Kolkata through artistic exchange between communities along the Thames Estuary and India’s Hooghly River. Kinetika’s Artistic Director Ali Pretty, with associate Artistic Director Ruchira Das (Think Arts, India) and an international team of artists, writers and photographers, will capture and interpret the experience of journeying along these two mighty rivers.

Working in 20 locations from Murshidabad to Batanagar (Hooghly) and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to Southend (Thames) to reinterpret a shared heritage, Kinetika’s Silk River will raise cultural awareness of the Indo-British relationship through engaging diaspora communities who live alongside both rivers.

Silk River took place along the Thames between September 15 and September 24 and will culminate in West Bengal along the Hooghly December 7 – 17, 2017 with two river walks where the stories of the 20 locations will be revealed to local, national and international audiences through the showing of 20 giant hand-painted Bengali silk scrolls and accompanying performances.