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A Tasteless and Vile History of the Paisley Pattern in Britain
Suchitra Choudhury

Sat 16 January 2021

The pinecone design that we know today as the Paisley pattern has its origins in the industrial town of the same name, which produced striking imitations of Indian Cashmere shawls in the nineteenth century.

The unique “inverted teardrop” or buta pattern had journeyed from Persia via the subcontinent; but despite this popularity, British art critics roundly deplored their reproduction in Paisley shawls – apparently, the imitations simply represented bad taste.

Paisley shawls are now regarded as valuable heritage textiles in Scotland and beyond; in the backdrop of new discussions around social inequality and the BLM movement, we might pause to uncover their castaway experience in Victorian Britain.

This online lecture is by Suchitra Choudhury. Choudhury is Research Fellow 2020 supported by The William Lind Foundation at the University of Glasgow. She is currently completing a monograph on 'Cashmere and Paisley Shawls in British Literature and Culture' for Ohio University Press.


The event is part of the ambi programme. This exhibition is a partnership between CCA and GSA, taking works from the textiles, fashion and costume holdings at The Glasgow School of Art Archives & Special Collections as its starting point for three artist commissions, with Rabiya Choudhry, Fiona Jardine and Hanneline Visnes.

This event will include live captioning.