Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Jute - Bangladeshi Gold

We were taken for a trip in a boat across the river top see the Bengal Groups, Bay of Bengal Jute Carpet Factory. Jute is described as Bangladeshi Gold, not only because it has a beautiful golden sheen during its early stages of processing but also because it is a major export for the country.

We were shown around the factory, seeing the processing of the jute into fibres and then into products, primarily mats and domestic items. Like factories the world over it was a busy, noisy place, with machines constantly moving.


I was drawn to the repetition and the rhythm and movements of the machines and the construction of large surfaces and forms from a single thread.

In some of the products the jute is dyed to give different colours, in others the designs are printed.


We returned to Dhaka and met Tapon – the rickshaw painter who will be coming to the UK as part of the project. He is currently working on a project for Mahbub.

The traffic at Hatirpul in Dhaka was not unlike the Jute platting machine in the factory, constantly shifting and somehow, miraculously, not colliding!