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GCSE Indian wall hanging

Eons ago in a high school, far, far away, I took a GCSE (O-Level) in Textiles. I was educated on the history of fabrics, trade, manufacturing, fashion, technology developments, seam work and how everything supposedly originated from 'Arab or Muslim land'. For the last module we eager naive students were told to pick a cultural theme from four (I got Indian) and recreate our ethnic designs onto fabric. As Muslims we were encouraged to avoid recreating idols and images of revered icons in the Hindu/Indian cultures. I thought Ganesh and Vishnu would be ok with me replacing them with paisleys and tassles.

In the last two months to coursework deadline, after everyone else had completed their work, I sat there for weeks with a sewing machine late into the evening (my mother the teacher picked me up after 5pm every school day), drilling the last peacock applique onto this absurd looking hanging thing that I now use as a window blind. Aged 16, little did I know I would find this complicated thing years later stashed between 1980's CDs and Renaissance books.

Can you say: 'ow, the colour hurts my eyes' ?

The top paisleys and side flower things were made by cutwork; the top middle arch is CAD/CAM, the peacocks are stencilled as are the arches at the bottom and the frilly stuff is applique and beadwork. I distinctly remember the tunes we played while making these, sat in the technology room without supervision with printers printing yards of fabric and machinery everywhere sounding ill. An iron would be burning someone's work in the corner, a group of mature students (not me) would race with the wheely chairs (seriously, I didn't do that, ever), someone else would spill neon pink fabric paint that didn't come off and sing to death metal songs, another would use the oil pastels as ammunition by smushing them onto the floor. Happy times.

Oh, I got an A for it. MashaAllah. So y'know, all those bleeding fingers and hijabs covered in fabric paint were kinda worth it. Further, I and a group of others exhibited our work like business women at the Harrogate Embroidery and Textile show. 'Twas quite honourable. We were the only headscarf wearing multi coloured Muslims there. A few viewers even remarked 'Oh you're work is pretty, you do this at home don't you? Because you're not allowed to go to school? Are you visiting this country with your teacher? Why, why do you wear those pleated trousers (a Punjabi salwar)? Have you been Indian for long?'


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