Marilyn Dickson displays some of the textiles that will be on display at the gala fundraising evening for the Station House Gallery on July 8 at Beeotcheese Bistro & Bakery. Tickets are available at the Station House Gallery

Marilyn Dickson displays some of the textiles that will be on display at the gala fundraising evening for the Station House Gallery on July 8 at Beeotcheese Bistro & Bakery. Tickets are available at the Station House Gallery

International textile exhibit coming next week

Lakecity residents will have a unique opportunity next week to view some of the richest examples of fabric art to come out of India in an evening of cultural immersion called India: Through the Eye of a Needle.

Lakecity residents will have a unique opportunity next week to view some of the richest examples of fabric art to come out of India in an evening of cultural immersion called India: Through the Eye of a Needle.

The event happens July 8 at Beeotcheese Bistro & Bakery and is a fundraiser for the Station House Gallery.

“Join us for a gala Station House fundraising evening exploring textile treasures and culture from the Indian desert and the Vancouver Museum embroidery collection,” encourages event organizer Marilyn Dickson.

Dickson says this dazzling array of world-class textiles from the Maiwa Foundation has previously been exhibited at museums across Canada. 

Several rare and traditional quilts will also be on display during the evening.

The evening also includes an intimate portrayal of the artisans who created the textiles through photos and video.

There will be ethnic appetizers by Beeotcheese chefs, music by DJ RecordC (aka Dr. Amarjot Sajan), and  a cash bar.

The cultural evening opens the Common Threads exhibit that will be at the Station House Gallery through July and August.

Dickson says the Maiwa Foundation works to secure fair market value for artisans who continue to make fabric, and embroidered and embellished textiles in traditional ways.

In many regions of India, Pakistan, Morocco and other eastern countries, Dickson says people distinguish themselves from a particular area or as part of a particular group by the intricate patterns in the fabric of their clothing.

But today she says global demand for these beautiful hand-crafted fabrics, has put pressure on artisans to abandon their traditional way of creating and decorating fabric in favor of faster methods of production and simplifying designs in order to support their families. 

As a result, she says the textile traditions of producing world-class embroidery that made their ancestors famous are being lost at an alarming rate.

Self-sufficiency for village artisans is largely dependent on a recognition of value by western markets.

In 2002 the Maiwa Foundation, in conjunction with the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan co-operative, Maiwa Handprints Ltd., the Vancouver Museum and other funders mounted an exhibition of embroidery from tribal groups living in the Kutch Desert in efforts to raise awareness about the true market value of traditional textile crafts. 

Women from the Kutch Mahila Vika Sangathan co-operative are keeping alive the generations of knowledge that has been passed down through their embroidered designs.

Working in a cooperative setting has empowered the women to recognize the true value of their craft in a global sense, receive fair market value for their work, and protect them from predatory buyers.

It also elevates their status within their families and communities and allows them to continue living in their own villages while bringing financial resources to their families.

Handmade craft, which builds on traditional skills and displays high quality workmanship cannot be easily copied by either industrial means or unskilled labour. 

Moreover, the market is willing to pay a premium for an absence of synthetic content.

In craft this usually means the exclusive use of natural dyes and natural fibers produced and used in environmentally sound ways.