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Tapestries survive Taliban to weave their way to Taranaki

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PUBLISHED: 8 MAR 2022

Tapestries survive Taliban to weave their way to Taranaki

Three towering tapestries have been smuggled out of Afghanistan disguised as cushions and are taking pride of place at NPDC’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre.

The tapestries, by artist Khadim Ali, will be shown alongside art works by Wellington-based artist Areez Katki in the Gallery’s latest exhibition “There Is No Other Home But This” which is expected to attract local and national attention.

As the Taliban closed its grip on the country last year, Khadim Ali’s artisans disguised and abandoned the tapestries in order to flee into the refuge of Pakistan.

After weeks of negotiating, bribing and several anxious trips back across the tightly patrolled border, all three of the tapestries were recovered, although two were severely damaged by knives and bayonets.

In the refuge of Pakistan, Ali’s team was able to repair the damaged works and ship them to New Plymouth, where they’ll be displayed from 5 March – 19 June 2022 in the exhibition.

“We’re beyond excited that these works are about to be seen for the first time in Aotearoa,” says the Gallery’s director and curator Zara Stanhope. “This exhibition is going to be exceptional.”

Khadim Ali has a growing international reputation, with works on display in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the British Museum, London.

It’s hoped the opportunity to see his art in New Zealand’s premier contemporary art gallery will bring strong outside interest and discussion and offer a boost to New Plymouth’s Covid-hit hospitality and accommodation sectors.

Fast Facts:

  • The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery opened in 1970, and in 2015 was joined by the Len Lye Centre.
  • In the last year the Gallery has attracted over 60,000 visitors, with 80% coming from outside Taranaki.
  • The Gallery delivers a comprehensive exhibition programme spanning contemporary art and the art and archives of New Zealand artist Len Lye.
  • Alongside ‘There is No Other Home But This’ are two exhibitions by Len Lye – ‘Rainbow Dance’ which presents an insight into Len Lye as a multi-media artist decades before the term was coined, and ‘Convolutions’ a newly-created wall-mounted kinetic sculpture developed to Lye’s designs and notes.

 

Caption: Khadim Ali / Untitled 1 2021 / Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane