Ekta Kaul’s love for textiles began early. Through her childhood in India, she remembers vibrant, handmade objects all around her. She remembers the beautiful block printed textiles in her home and her mother’s hand woven saris. Her grandmother would make quilts using scraps of fabric from worn out clothing. As a child, Ekta would help lay the composition of the quilts and thread her grandmother’s needle. These early experiences shaped her deep appreciation for cloth and stitch.
Ekta began working more closely with cloth when she started her studies at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. She trained in Apparel and Textiles, working with cloth to transform its surface and shape. The possibilities presented by the cloth were inspiring. This quickly became her focus, rather than the outcome of the garment. She sought to open herself to these possibilities – the potential of cloth to become art, architecture, and object. Her journey of studying and making textiles has continued ever since, leading her to the UK, where she studied for a Masters degree and eventually set up her studio practice.
Over the last decade, Ekta has been creating beautiful hand stitched maps on cloth. These works began in a period when she was traveling frequently between London, England, where she was studying, and Delhi, India, where she grew up and where her parents lived at the time. She was questioning the idea of “home” – what it is that makes us feel a sense of belonging to a place or a people. Traversing the cartographies of these distant cities, she walked through memories, finding space for herself in each one.
Inspired by the ways maps hold and tell stories, Ekta continues to study and make them. She works from photos, research, and reading about each place, choosing elements to layer and meet to create a composition expressive of history and personal memory. These cloth maps are generative. Through stitching, Ekta creates new places. Her expressive lines and stitch marks carry deep feeling and memory. As her needle travels across the cloth, the thread marks the movements. New paths and landscapes become visible and tangible.
Ekta is drawn to the simplicity of stitching, and the depth of it. She frequently uses running stitch, finding it simple and fundamental, yet vastly expressive. Stories unfurl in the space it creates. A row of stitches can guide her through memory, connecting her to family and community.
Ekta loves to share the knowledge and skill she has spent so many years building. She sees herself as part of a continuum of textile artists, learners and makers. As she has learned so much from the world around her, and those who stitched before her, she works to pass her knowledge onto her students. She sees the classroom as a collaborative space, one where she too is learning and evolving with each new question, challenge, or revelation.
Join us for two wonderful, virtual textile learning experiences with Ekta, upcoming at Tatter. On June 30, 2022, Ekta will be giving an artist lecture and on July 1, 2022, Ekta will be teaching a class on traditional Kantha Quilting.
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Ekta Kaul is an award winning London based artist. Her artistic practice is focused on creating narrative maps that explore places, history and belonging through stitch. A pared back aesthetic coupled with a highly considered use of graphic marks and lines form the core elements of her work. These are underpinned by a thoughtful approach to making with meaning, a deep interest in heritage and a firm commitment to sustainability. “I am drawn to maps not only because they are beautiful objects in their own right but also because they are repositories for meaning. A map can reveal so many stories and can become a portal to places that are significant in personal narratives.”, says Ekta.
Ekta works on public and private commissions taking inspiration from the history, architecture and personal narratives of place. Her work is held in several collections including Crafts Council, Liberty’s of London, the Gunnersbury Museum and Chiswick Library. Her recent projects include an artist residency at Chinatown London exploring its hidden stories and an interactive public art commission from Waterman’s London. Ekta exhibits her work at a select group of galleries in the UK and internationally including The New Craftsmen, Contemporary Applied Arts, Museum of Art and Design NYC, Conran Shop Tokyo among others. She has received awards from the Crafts Council and the Arts Council, England & was the finalist in Jerwood Makers Open 2019. Ekta teaches Masterclasses at institutions internationally including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. She works from her studio at Cockpit Arts, Bloomsbury London.
www.ektakaul.com | Instagram @ekta_kaul