Folk and tribal art comes to Leicester

Posted by pt91 at Jul 27, 2011 03:40 PM |
Exhibition launches at Embrace Arts at the RA Centre

Issued by Embrace Arts on 26 July 2011

An(other) Story: Folk and tribal arts in India, takes place at Embrace Arts, the University of Leicester’s art centre, from Monday 18 July to Friday 30 September.

Visitors to the exhibition will gain an insight into the diversity of folk and tribal art styles and techniques, including Madhubani/Mithila, Gond, Warli, Patua scrolls and folk embroidery, which have been embraced for centuries throughout India.  

Even though artists in India have been practising their art for centuries, the world at large has only come to know about these women and men, and consider them to be artists in the last 50 years.  Now their work is exhibited at major contemporary art galleries around the world.

The visibility of Indian folk and tribal artists in the wider world started with art created by women who lived in villages near the market town of Madhubani / Mithila, Bihar in northern India.   These women painters were led to share their work with the world by a major ecological and economic crisis that resulted from a prolonged drought in 1966 − 68. In order to create a new source of non-agricultural income, the All-India Handicrafts Board encouraged the women to produce their traditional paintings on paper for commercial sale.  This design intervention has been a major reason for the survival and revival of folk and tribal arts ever since.  

The collection of Madhubani or Mithila works use pen and coloured ink to create detailed imagery, to depict gods and goddesses, mythologies and the natural world.  At the core of the imagery is the concept of Khobar used by young girls to indicate a personal proposal of marriage to a man.

The Warli paintings take their name from the Warli tribe of East India.  Before catching the attention of the world in 1970s, the paintings adorned the huts of the Warli people and were produced only by women.  However with the recent exposure to the outer world, modern Warlis are now produce mainly by men. In this exhibition the paintings have been created using cow dung and paste on card and depict traditional events such as marriage, a dance, sowing, harvesting and hunting.

Since these early beginnings, Indian folk and tribal artists have exhibited their work at major contemporary art galleries around the world.  This exhibition highlights the first pioneering works by women folk artists from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as recently-commissioned work by award-winning artists such as Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, Arvind Ghosalkar, Ramesh Hengani, Saroj Rathod and Gurupada Chitrakar. It also showcases embroidery traditions that are no longer flourishing in India, due to changes in social and economic environments.

This exhibition can only touch on the richness of textiles in South Asia, but brings together a number of traditional quilts, embroidery pieces, drawings and paintings from around the sub continent.

An(other) Story was originally curated by David Schischka Thomas and Saleem Arif Quadri MBE for an exhibition at the New Art Exchange, Nottingham in 2009.

Entrance to ‘An(other) Story’: Folk and tribal arts in India’ is free.   The exhibition takes place at Embrace Arts, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA until Friday 30 September, 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday.   For weekend opening times please telephone 0116 252 2455.

For more information visit the website

Notes to Editors: Further details are available from Lucy Stevens, Marketing Communications Assistant, Embrace Arts, email

Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough centre, PO Box 138, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA. Box office: 0116 252 2455; e-mail:

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