Weaving Love, Creating "Hope": Textile design

Competition Details

'First Rain' (Bangla: Prothom Bristy)

by Jessica Priemus
Co-authors: Jessica Priemus and Shimul Minhas Uddin

Hope in Bangladesh is awaiting the first rain.

Our design intent was to capture the change in both the Bangladeshi landscape and psyche, from pre to post rain.

In May and the early June in Bangladesh the land is dry and the rivers are low. The fish begin to migrate. So oppressive is the sun’s heat the women sit before their fire of twigs, barely feeling heat from the hearth. Men move with great deliberation, and even the children are subdued.

The orange left side of the warp pattern in our design harshly intersects the landscape of the weft, like the midday sun, while the earth bounces the heat back. It symbolises before the rains - where dust blows around the stubble of khaki-coloured fields, which were lush green not long ago.

With the coming the rains begins the heat and cool of the year’s most majestic period, where Bangladesh comes back to life and hope.

The first drops are best. Suddenly the earth begins changing colour.

The white lines in our warp pattern represent the heavy raindrops that beat down on the landscape like millions of tiny plows. “Nature’s” Fibonacci sequence is used in our design to symbolise this rainfall pattern, this natural rainfall crescendo, which starts out like a tinkling bell. It is the sound of rain pellets striking thatched and tin roofs, mingled with a gurgle as it runs with increasing speed through the canals and fields. The crescendo climaxes with the sound of heavy downpour on the roofs, a rushing sound in streams and roaring in rivers, then gradually returns to small drops, until it stops. Rain is welcomed in Bangladesh, but too much rain causes flood. We wanted to convey this ‘balance’ with the symmetry of the warp pattern.

As the fresh blue of the warp intersects the colourful weft ‘landscape’, the colours are cooled. Dark grey and brown clouds have obliterated the mighty sun, which just days ago seemed so unconquerable.

We have designed the fabric to be easily made. Once the warp is set up on the loom, the weft is uncomplicated. The colours are interchangeable. However, the crescendo should be left as white, as it is the protagonist of the design – the rain itself.

References: Novak, JJ 1993, Bangladesh: Reflections on the Water, The Essential Asia Series (David I. Steinberg, Editor). Vol XV, pp 23 - 24.