Nikita Malik: Kantha Craft from Bangladesh
Posted: Mar 22nd, 2023 | Gathering

In the video below, Nikita Malik responds to an embroidered bed cover [T04.24.152] from West Bengal. Nikita was drawn to how the craftsmen translated animals, birds, trees, and everyday life into a textile that to her feels like poetry in threads. For Nikita, this textile is the craftsman’s way of storytelling wherein s/he has combined naturalism and imagination to embroider scenes that illuminate the subtle aesthetics of nature.  She believes that this textile is a reminder of the important role that slow crafts and textiles have in developing a sense of community through the act of coming together to embroider while singing, chatting, and storytelling. 

Below is the image of the piece that inspired Malik to create her response. Learn more about this piece in our online collection by clicking on the live link below.

Bed cover or Kantha [T86.0096]
Asia: South Asia, India, Eastern India, West Bengal – 1920 – 1960
From the Fitzgerald Collection to the Textile Museum of Canada

Born and raised in India, Nikita Malik is an artist and textile designer. She has travelled all over India, observing and absorbing the variations in textiles and crafts associated with different parts of the country. Her studio practice integrates her painting and consciousness towards endangered flora into embroidered artistic textiles with a hope that it might expand, in some small measure, the way in which the world is viewed. 

This work is created as part of Gathering, the inaugural installation of our new Collection Gallery, featuring community stories told through our global collection. Grounded in community participation, the installation presents over 40 pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection of over 15,000 objects from around the world. Choices of objects, responses, and retellings were gathered via open online calls for reflection, through partnerships with local organizations, and through artists’ interventions. Gathering explores themes related to migration and diaspora, the search for comfort in the domestic and familial, reclamation of ancestral traditions through contemporary artistic responses, and the relationship between textiles and the environment. 

This video is part of a digital project generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now initiative.

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