This conference aims to promote collaboration and exchanges between professionals working with collections of South Asian arts and crafts, nationally and internationally. By sharing knowledge and experiences, it is envisaged that the conference will build and strengthen networks, and foster new partnerships.
The Future of South Asian Collections Conference: UK and South Asia perspectives
There are numerous and varied South Asian collections held both in the UK and in South Asia. They range from public or government institutions to privately held collections; some are world renown and firmly established, whilst some are newly formed or a small part of bigger institutions. Moreover, there are some collections that are well-funded but, certainly within the UK, ever-increasing financial restraints have become a major issue.
Over the last decade there have been shifts in museum practices and thinking about these particular types of collections. Issues of conservation, documentation, storage and research remain pragmatic concerns for many. Recent collecting practices have tended to be either non-existent, predicated on existing material, in response to particular audiences or linked to specific exhibitions. Museums have attempted to deliver programs in response to different audiences, with changing expectations and levels of participation. Does the breadth and complexity of these issues perhaps require the need for an increasingly collective and comprehensive approach?
The conference celebrates the affiliation of the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) with the Sainsbury Institute for Art (SIfA) at the University of East Anglia. The notions of 'craft' and 'world art' are explored across the SIFA institutions. Craft has been considered as the interrelation of form, function, material, process and meaning, mediated through social, economic and cultural influences. Craft is also inextricably linked to concepts of skill and craftsmanship. This understanding of ‘craft' has certainly informed the selection and collection of objects that now form the South Asian Decorative Arts and Craft Collection. Is it, therefore, a useful device to interpret and consider objects found in South Asia Collections? Furthermore, how do notions of 'craft' relate to debates surrounding 'world art'?
Conference Website and Call for Papers
IMAGE: Boatmen. Brass, lost-wax casting/dhokra. Orissa, North East India. 20th century. South Asia Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection. Photograph by James de Ara.