Event: Wax Print – 1 Fabric, 4 Continents, 200 Years of History

Event date: Monday 3 December 2018 16:30 – 19:00

From the villages of Indonesia to the cotton fields of America, from European industrial mills to the bustling markets and sewing schools of West Africa, this film tells the story of one fabric and how it came to symbolise a continent, it’s people and their struggle for freedom.

In African homes across the world a benign textile lies unassuming and taken for granted. With a multitude of names from ‘Dutch Wax’ to ‘Liputa’ and ‘Kitenge’ to ‘Ankara’ this textile has become an important part of African cultures across the diaspora. A symbol of strength and identity in the face of oppression.

Surprised to learn from her Nigerian grandmother that ‘traditional’ African wax printed fabrics were a colonial invention made in the UK and Holland, British-born filmmaker and fashion designer, Aiwan Obinyan, sets out on a journey across four continents to trace the two-hundred year history of this iconic textile that has come to visually represent Africa and Africans.

The Industrial Revolution. Cotton is king. Mills across Europe spin and weave cotton sourced from North America. Colonialism leads to the discovery of batik in Indonesia. Dutch and English traders copy the designs and industrial innovators mechanise the process leading to the creation of Wax Prints. In the scramble for Africa, Wax prints are brought on merchant ships and sold by missionary trading companies in the bustling markets and village squares of West Africa. Local women are economically and politically empowered by this new import. Business is booming for all. But at what cost?

Following the film there will be a Q and A session with it’s director Aiwan Obinyan.

For more information and registration for this free event click here

Location: Clothworkers North Building LT Cinema (2.31), School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT

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