Dreams of Weaving

a striped woven textile on a loom and inset images of people weaving

Sri Lanka, being enriched with a vast cultural heritage possess numerous craft-based industries like Handloom weaving that already operate in the ambience of eco-friendly and sustainable environments. However, the industry lacks innovative new product development approaches to thrive on the global stage.

‘Dreams of weaving’ study mainly explored the socio-emotional identities of the Handloom artisans representing different Handloom communities in Sri Lanka and looked at the possible new product development approaches. The inclusivity of well-experienced artisans’ social sustainability played a major role in this project.

The Handloom textile industry in Sri Lanka is unique for its own special design motifs, textures, and weaving techniques which are mastered by the artisans while preserving and carrying the inherited value. Project ‘Dreams of weaving’ is exceptional as, unlike many other studies which focus on Handloom as an industry, this project centres around the actual creators of the craft who are often overlooked in favour of the designers.

An inquisitive exploration of artisans’ socio-emotional identities unveiled the authentic selfhood of the Handloom artisan who is resilient yet innocent and has the expertise, tacit knowledge, and skills in abundance. The ongoing practice-led stage of the study expects weaving an uncut piece of handloom textile using a single warp by incorporating the skills of twenty-seven artisans contributed to the study who come from different parts of the country. The final piece of fabric is expected to represent an exposé of their mastery, craftsmanship, socio-emotional profiles and the mindful making of Handloom fabric. “The fingerprint of the maker” exhibition is planned to showcase the final output of the project using this uncut piece of Handloom textile that represents the artisanal values and the legacy of the Sri Lankan Handloom industry. Team headed by Dr Wickramasinghe together with Dr Gopura is conducting this study.

Chief Investigators