The British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur programme
As the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation, the British Council has partnered with Southbank Centre to bring a series of high profile speakers from India and Pakistan to produce a series of discussions, debates and live performances which link the arts sector in the UK, India and South Asia to tell the story of cultural relations work between nations.
In the foyer of The Royal Festival Hall, two small exhibitions have been built that provide a contextual platform to The Alchemy Festival as a whole. One of these exhibitions showcases the work of The British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur programme (YCE). The Fashion and Design YCE programme champions Sri Lankan and Indian talent within their local industries, identifying innovative business models. The programme recognises the significant impact that these designers are making on the development of a sustainable and competitive creative economy.
The exhibition consists of many dimensions. Taking centre stage is The Katran Collection, designed by Sarthak Sahil Design Company. The installation features The Katran Chair which is bound by coloured pieces of cloth that are the by-products of export houses from a town in Rajasthan, woven into ropes by local farmers.
Whilst sitting on The Katran Chair, visitors have the opportunity to watch a documentary on the work of KUR – a contemporary womenswear brand that reflects designer Kasuni’s Rathnsuriya’s passion to promote sustainability as a core value within the fashion industry. KUR’s designs are modern, fresh and environmentally friendly with innovative approaches to recycling and redesigning.
Installed behind this lies The Choori Lamps designed by Srahthak Sahil Design Company. The colourful glass bangles function as lampshades and the gentle movement of the lamps creates a soft jangling sound. The lamp design was inspired by Indian women using clothes hangers to store their glass bangles in their wardrobes at home.
The exhibition successfully supports emerging designers in Indian and Sri Lanka and promotes the fashion and design industry in their country in a commercial, social, educational and public context. Reminiscent in each work is a commitment to the revitalisation of crafts that are unique to India and Sri Lanka. It is rewarding to gain an insight into the new work being designed in India. And what’s more, with style, function and sustainability, these very designs are challenging the notion of contemporary design worldwide.
By Sumitra Upham