A slate grey ‘Sari for Yorkshire’ dotted with raindrops, snowflakes and clouds is the star of the show at an exhibition of traditional and 21st century saris opening at the Harley Gallery, Worksop, in early May.
The sari, created by Bradford student Ramim Nasim, was one of ten winners in the British Sari Story national competition for sari patterns reflecting British Asian life today, run by cultural arts organisation Bridging Arts in 2007. Winners’ patterns were printed on new saris and put on display in the British Sari Story exhibition which opened in London and is now touring with Arts Council England funding.
“We are delighted that Ramim’s sari is heading north,” says Nidhi Uppal, exhibitions and events officer at Bridging Arts. “The exhibition is all about patterns – and the way patterns tell stories and reflect people’s lives. Ramim’s sari reflects her feelings about the Yorkshire weather! She was brought up in Hong Kong so the move to Bradford was a real transition for her.”
For Lisa Gee, Harley Gallery director, the exhibition provides an exciting glimpse into the experience of British Asians.
“Being located in the ex-coalfields of the East Midlands means that we are not an ethnically diverse community,” she says. “The British Sari Story Exhibition is a great opportunity for us to understand, through traditional costume, something of the experiences of British Asians.“
Other 21st century sari designs include a London tube map sari, a Notting Hill carnival sari and a Cornish sari with buckets, spades and seagulls. Traditional saris on display include a bridal sari, a sari for ‘ladies who lunch’ and an everyday sari for housework.
This year, Bridging Arts is running a competition for a British Bridal Sari as the exhibition tours the UK. Instead of ideas for a printed, everyday sari, competitors are asked to submit a swatch of fabric with embroidery, beading or embellishment that might adorn their dream wedding sari.
”We hope the audience at the Harley Gallery will have a go at this,” says Uppal. “Entry is free and the top prize is £250.” The winning entry, plus the entries of other finalists, will join the British Sari Story exhibition tour and be announced at Charnwood Museum, Loughborough, when the show opens there this October.