Re:Imagine India – Livery of Freedom
Livery of Freedom is a research and development project, that we are working on in collaboration with Photographer, Tim Smith. It is designed to build relationships between arts practitioners in England and India, preparing the ground for a major artistic collaboration in 2016/17. The vision for the project is that it will create an entirely new international network of creative practitioners who are passionate about using storytelling and verbatim theatre to enable communities to explore, dramatise and articulate their experience.
The project will take the form of exchange visits between artists, to Mumbai and Gujarat in November 2015 and to Yorkshire in March 2016. For the artists it is important to delve into life beyond their experience, to consider place and community, to learn about each country – its history, the movements of its people and how these influences affect the stories being told by contemporary storytellers.
Livery of Freedom offers the opportunity to connect directly with storytellers in India through cultural exchange. The art and tradition of storytelling has connected us for centuries; it’s universal and what makes us human. Storytelling fulfils our need to reflect our experiences, fears, beliefs and heroism in narrative form. Writers, performers, photographers, videographers, bloggers and all of us through our social media activity tell the stories of our time. What can we learn from one another? What can we learn from the storytellers of India where other human and physical landscapes and historical events have informed, influenced and given life to their particular stories?
Woven textiles, and the textile industries, will provide a key theme for our project; textiles provide a web of connections between England, Mumbai and Gujarat. The movement of the textile industry from India to northern England in the nineteenth century affected the lives of millions of people in both countries, and led to the mass migrations in the 20th century which formed the British South Asian diaspora. Textiles played an important role in the struggle for Indian independence through the ‘Khadi’ movement, in which a simple handwoven cloth became a powerful symbol of resistance to British rule. The Khadi movement continues to be an important force for social change in India today.
This shared heritage will provide a focus for the project which will enable us to explore social history, cross-cultural relationships and associated themes of migration and labour movements as experienced in our different countries.