Claire Wintle researches the role of exhibitions (particularly of craft and design) in the projection of India’s political identity abroad in the post-independence period. Her project examines exhibitions about ‘India’ that were held in the UK, USA and beyond during the Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi premierships. It focuses on exhibitions ranging from memorials of political leaders and stand-alone art exhibitions to major multi-sited international festivals such as the UK and US Festivals of India. These events involved the complex agendas of the Indian government, Indian designers and curators such as Martand Singh, Haku Shah and H Kumar Vyas, and foreign designers and curators such as Charles and Ray Eames, Stella Kramrisch and Diana Vreeland.
Based on interviews with Indian designers, and archival research in government and museum papers in India, the UK and the US, the project considers how design promoted ideas of Indian non-alignment, independence and decolonisation. It prizes the role of designers in exhibitionary practice, and untangles the interactions of diplomacy, design and transnational collaboration in travelling exhibitions.
'India on Display: Nationalism, Transnationalism and Collaboration, 1964-86', Third Text, November, 2017, 301-320.
‘Diplomacy and the Design School: the Ford Foundation and India’s National Institute of Design’, Design and Culture, 9(2) 2017.
'Displaying Independent India Abroad: Nationalism, Cultural Diplomacy and Collaboration at the Nehru Memorial Exhibition, 1965-2015', in Glenn Hooper (ed.), Heritage at the Interface: Interpretation and Identity (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2018).
Image credit: India: A Whole World in Herself, designed and constructed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, for the Commonwealth Institute, London, c. 1979, Private Collection.