Shared Heritage between Neilston and India
Textile Ties is a creative community project incorporating creative learning and textile design for a community event for Neilston Development Trust (NDT). As part of the Commonwealth 2014 Legacy, NDT organised a 'Mela on Main Street' to celebrate some of the cultural links between the village of Neilston in East Renfewshire and the sub-Indian continent. NDT commissioned Geraldine to work with members of the local community to explore some of these connections and to create a design element for the the Mela event in the village square.
Geraldine worked together with school and nursery children from Neilston and St. Thomas Primary Schools and the Madras Family Centre, and a local village adult walking group to create a set of decorative block printed Mela Banners using a relief printing technique similar to traditional Indian wood block printing. These were made to act as a vibrant and colourful backdrop to the Mela event, and display patterns designed and printed by the children. The pattern designs are inspired by an exploration and celebration of some of Neilston’s cultural ties with India through a shared heritage as textile producers.
Textiles have a long and distinguished history in the Indian sub-continent.
Neilston became a centre for cotton and calico bleaching and printing in the 18th century, and developed into a spinning and dyeing industry that continued into the early 20th century.
During this period, the British textile industry was heavily influenced by Indian textiles as a result of a period of massive trade with Britain’s trading empire. Decorative textile goods from India were imported to Britain, and later as the British textile industry developed, raw materials came from India and were spun into cotton in the Neilston Mills, which was then exported throughout the world.