Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace

Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace
  • Now Open
March 12, 2022 to August 1, 2022
  • Level 3, Third Floor Centre Block
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Pattern and colour unlock the power of new perspectives.


Contemporary artist Swapnaa Tamhane brings together layered fabric compositions that challenge traditional hierarchies between art and craft in the exhibition Swapnaa Tamhane: Mobile Palace, organized by ROM.

Bold and immersive, Tamhane's first solo museum exhibition features three large, cotton cloth installations created from long lengths of printed and embroidered fabric. Drawing on India's rich textile history and inspired by Mughal and Ottoman tents used as mobile palaces, these tent-like forms are re-imagined. The artist's materials invoke the legacy of cotton in India as a form of colonial resistance and visitors are encouraged to experience the rich, sweeping flows of fabric from different vantages, to better explore and appreciate the artistic vision.

Tamhane worked in a collaborative creative process with artists based in Gujarat, India, including dyer and printer Salemamad Khatri, wood block carver Mukesh Prajapati, and the Qasab-Kutch Craftswomen embroidery collective. Designing motifs, appliqué and beading to create punctuated interruptions in the repetition of patterns, the artist asks us to consider the spaces in-between.

Beautiful and relevant, the exhibition's visual depth, contemporary narrative lens, and immersive environment provide a powerful experience for sight and mind.

Please note: This exhibition is composed of structured and suspended lengths of fabric installed as an immersive experience. While we encourage walking around and among the installations where allowed, we ask that visitors do not touch the objects on display. Even mild touching, over time, will cause damage. We appreciate your understanding and thank you for protecting our collections and exhibitions.


Ajrakh Textiles from Kutch with special guest Salemamad Khatri

Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31, 2022 | 11 am - 1 pm and 2 pm - 4 pm each day.

ROM welcomes textile artist Salemamad Khatri to the exhibition space on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, 2022. Joined both days by Swapnaa Tamhane and ROM's Deepali Dewan, Khatri — who collaborated with Tamhane on many of the artworks in the exhibition — will be available to discuss the work on display, showing raw materials and samples in the unique Ajrakh pattern design and the complex process of printing and dyeing using this traditional textile production method. Abdulaziz Khatri, a representative with the India-based organization, Khamir, will also be present to explain the process and provide translation as needed. Khamir is a platform for the crafts, heritage, and cultural ecology of the Kachchh region of Gujarat. Instituted after the earthquake of 2001, it is a space for engagement and development of Kachchh's rich creative industries.

Note: Due to conservation restrictions, artists will not be working with actual dyes.

Salemamad Khatri (b. 1981) is an artist based in Ajrakhpurin, in the region of Kutch, located in Gujarat, India. A noted block-printer and dyer of textiles using historical methods, he works with the organization Khamir, based in Kutch.

Abdulaziz Khatri is Trade Manager at Khamir.

Ajrakh patterns use complex geometry to create constellations in indigo, madder, black, and white across lengths of cloth. The shapes and motifs echo the architectural forms of Islamic architecture's intricate jali windows and trefoil arches. A time-honoured emblem for the local communities of Kachchh (Kutch) in present-day Gujarat, India, the cloth is made in a process involving up to 22 steps of washing, dyeing, printing, and drying, which requires a high level of skill and concentration to keep colours fast and even. Pomegranate seeds, gum, Harde powder, wood, flour of Kachika, flower of Dhavadi, alizarine, and locally cultivated Indigo are just some of the natural resources that printers use in this craft. (courtesy of www.Khamir.org

Consulate General of India Toronto Logo   Azadi Ka Amnit Mahotsav logo

This exhibition is generously supported by the Royal Exhibitions Circle

Canada Council for the Arts logo

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Select works in the exhibition were also created through the support of ROM's IARTS Textiles of India Fund.