Arts / Shawl inspires contemporary art work

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Kalamandir Yellow, by Amardeep Shergill, 2018. DMC thread, galvanised steel mesh, fishing wire

A RARE exhibition opening today (November 1) at Tuggeranong Arts Centre draws on an artist’s cultural heritage to create new fine art.

Amardeep Shergill, the 2017 Emerging Artist Support Scheme Award winner at the centre, has used the hand-embroidered “phulkari” as the inspiration for her work, which explores notions of belonging and identity from the perspective of living in between cultures. 

Phulkari is embroidery and its traditional origins are in the Punjab of India and Pakistan. It involves fine back-stitching to embroider shawls and other garments usually worn at weddings, but Shergill was motivated by the story of one particular phulkari, almost lost during the Partition of India.

“This body of work was inspired by a story my grandmother told me three years ago. A story that gave me a renewed awareness of the value of one surviving phulkari handed down to me by my great grandmother,” Shergill said.

Assimilate- Green and Gold Phulkari, by Amardeep Shergill, 2018. DMC thread, galvanised steel mesh, fabric marker, fishing wire

Learning about her great-grandfather and the passage of valuable family possessions, wrapped and buried for safe keeping, Shergill traced back through familial history and connected to the domestic craft making skill of phulkari, which once was the central part of identity of a Punjabi woman, to inform her new sculptural forms.

“It is not my attempt to reproduce the fine skills of this craft in its original form which requires years of practice, however, I am able to re-interpret the patterns and colours into new forms and materials that I enjoy working with,” Shergill says.

Tuggeranong Arts Centre Gallery Program Manager, Narelle Phillips tells “CityNews” that the centre has been supporting graduating artists as a patron of the ANU School of Art since 2013.

Amardeep presented striking and vibrant work at the 2017 ANU grad show, and has spent the subsequent year creating and experimenting. Her investigations come from her unique perspective, occupying the liminal space positioned between cultures,” Phillips says.

Previous winners, she notes, have been Fredrika Rose (2013), Belle Palmer (2014), Jess Higgins (2015), Sally Mumford (2016) and Taylor Singh (2016).

“Processions”, new work by Amardeep Shergill, Tuggeranong Arts Centre, November 1 – 24. All welcome.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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