Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Map of patterns - Paisley and Chinz

When Bilal Abdullah, a British-born Iraqi and Kafed Ahmed, an Indian citizen, travelled to Paisely airport in June 2007 and tried to blow themselves up in a Jeep Cherokee truck, I started thinking about the Paisley pattern or cone design and how the consequences of it's global transformation are still being felt in the form of suicide bombers and flaming jeeps.
Paisley began life as a fine embroidered woven shawls from Kashmir during the 18th century for the likes of Napoleon’s Josephine. One could take as long as 5 years to weave and could cost as much as a London Georgian town house.

By 1850 shawls were being mass produced on Jacquard looms by Mr Paterson of Paisley, Scotland. Cheap imitation shawls flooded the market undermining and ultimately destroying the ancient Kashmiri craft of weaving and embroidery.

The paisley I have used on my map isn’t woven or embroidered - it’s from my husbands’ great-grandmothers housecoat purchased in Harrods sometime at the beginning of the century.
Then there are my sitting room curtains. Also inherited from my husbands' family. They were made by Sanderson in the 1960’s and are called Kandahar. This meant nothing to me when they hung in our spare bedroom, but when we moved house, we hung them in the sitting room next to the telly. I found myself watching pictures of the real Kandahar going up in smoke surrounded by the beautiful mohgul, chinz pattern of a mythical Kandahar, dreampt up by an English textile designer at the height of the Cold War.

You can see a small part of this pattern where Afghanistan should be and on the big map you can also find Kandahar in the English home counties. I've really got into this pattern and have made a short film with my friend Karin imagining what would happen if this pattern came to life.

Kandahar is now the place where the American drones take off – pilotless planes, angels of death, killing with precision and impunity.

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