Fabric Ecologies

About the Project

At the beginning of the 21st century, while on the brink of an ecological catastrophe of global proportions, we also appear to be on the threshold of a periodical rediscovering of the sense of wonder that the world appears to have lost. It is too early to speculate whether the return to the handmade, crafts, and other kinds of sustainable living are a fashion, or is born of the pressing exigencies of the time. Perhaps the handmade object and its signification of pre-industrial practices of manufacture  provide a “direct connection to humanity” that all too often seems to be missing from contemporary daily life, particularly in the technologically-saturated, twenty-first century lives. This series of installations relook at the ideas of thrifting-modes of use and reuse, ‘surplus’ and ‘discard’ as entities that can potentially be recontextualized. The students use a range of surface application techniques on textile, including block printing and screen printing with natural dye as well as dyeing with flowers, plant materials, rust printing, and alternative plant-based photographic processes such as anthotypes in their works. Fabric Ecologies reflect our contemporary concerns about the fragility of our ecology, the pollution of lakes and the slow demise of endangered species and trees.

Lavanya Mani

Lavanya. Mani completed her Masters in Painting from M.S.University of Baroda, India. Post her masters, she travelled around India documenting and learning to paint and dye with natural dyes. Her quest landed her in Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, renowned for its historically significant dyeing and painting tradition of Kalamkari. She was fortunate to be able to apprentice under the Kalmakari Mastercraftsman C. Subramaniam. Through the years she has developed her own technique, that extends the boundaries of ‘traditional’ kalamkari and uses natural dyes, embroidery, applique etc in contemporary studio practice. She has had two Solo shows at Gallery Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai - ‘In Praise Of Folly’ (2009) and ‘Signs Taken For Wonders’ (2019) She has also exhibited widely both in India and internationally.

Co-Facilitator: Sonia Jose

Artist's Note 

More recently my work has addressed the medium in a different way because while using natural dyes I am also trying to think of the ecology, the environment and sustainability, trying to use waste to produce colour.


Student Reflections 

It was quite a must to get our terms of measurements and time estimated right due to which the project went through a lot of changes. Using one technique and trying to get multiple results from rusted metal and getting the hoop measurements right were a few hurdles we faced. We worked together, which really help make this project work regardless of its scale.

There were always multiple things to be done with several fabrics simultaneously, so it was always important to keep track of what fabric was in which stage of dyeing. The whole process from ideating, sampling, sourcing, creating, measuring and finally installing, was really a worthwhile experience that we as a team learnt a lot from.

In Fabric Ecologies we were introduced to new materials and ingredients like harada, annatto, madder. We also learned a variety of techniques, including rust printing, shibori, leheriya, bandhani, and batik. We had our fair share of success and failure but it was worth it in the end.


Ananya Mishra, Avani Jain, Dalvi Purva Pramod, Dhande Chaitali Sunil, Gopika Praveen, J Sowmya, Jahnavi Patel, Jaya Dharmarajan Iyer, Muskan Bhateja, Nitasha Aleyama Koshy, Poorvi Kothari, Radha Prashant Tole, Reva Sachin Naik, Rhea Sajit, Ridhima Dhiman, Sanjana Padmanabhan, Shreya Sunil Dikshit, Shubhika Parekh, Sushruti S Krishnan, Swasti Bansal

Scroll to top