Tina Rowe

Workshops at the Dhaka Art Summit and Bistaar Arts Complex February 2018

In February this year I was invited to give workshops as part of the Dhaka Art Summit and for the British Council at The Bistaar Arts Complex.┬áThe plan was to be part of a team delivering four workshops during the summit, plus another workshop in Chittagong. I went with Eleanor Von Browne, Trish Scott and Fraser Muggeridge. It was great, not least to be with three other people I either didn’t know all that well, or had never met at all but whose company I thoroughly enjoyed, in a place I had only ever heard about but had no real concept of.

It’s pretty exciting to be invited to travel so far to deliver something you are passionate about, so I spent quite a bit of time working out what I wanted to do. I thought a bit around ideas of Anglo Bangladesh relations and how the countries histories are joined. There is no escaping the ruinous effects of the British empire but I also felt it would serve no purpose for me to show up and agit prop like a 21 year old recent graduate. I know I have a limited understanding of a complex and subtle landscape which heavily includes bits when the British mattered not one jot so why impose my ignorance. So I decided to try and work with what I know and let the participants bring the story to the party. What I did do, in what might be considered a small scale re-enactment of the iniquities of the British empire, I purchased a 10x 1m length of cotton, enough to make 2 saris on a cold sleety January Saturday in Dalston market from some nice Bangladeshi fellas. I took the fabric back to the studio where I soaked it in cyanotype chemistry, dried it, packed it in bin bags in order to lug it back to the part of the world it quite likely came from.

I wanted the workshop attendees to work collaboratively in order to produce a piece of work that everybody could see their contribution as a part of the whole. The idea was to spend some time thinking about how to create a piece of collaborative work that would use the environment and the knowledge of the attendees. So I practised in and around my studio, making large photograms of the things I found. I started with random pieces, just placed on the sheets in the bright cold sunshine and ended up wrapping the last piece of practice cloth around a tree. I liked the results.