One of the loan works that will be on display in Caught in the Crossfire: Artistic responses to conflict, peace and reconciliation at the Herbert Art Gallery is a textile piece by The War Boutique called The Great Game.
The Great Game is made from military fabrics including wool barathea, cotton drill and Disruptive Pattern Material polycotton on Afghan Keffiyeh, mounted on Taliban goat hair throw and yurt tent pole.
Rudyard Kipling used the phrase ‘The Great Game’ in his book Kim (1901) to refer to the conflict in Afghanistan. This textile piece is made up of material which reflects how British military uniform has developed from the nineteenth century to the present day. I met with the artist behind War Boutique a few months ago to talk about the piece and it was really fascinating to hear details of how the material evolved. An essay on the work will also appear in the exhibition’s accompanying publication.
The War Boutique was originally set up in the summer of 2003, in part as a reaction to the events surrounding the Iraq war. Local artists were engaged in the recycling of ballistic military materials (flak jackets, stab vests, body armour, etc), as a symbolic gesture of peace. You can currently see some of their work on display at Bedlam at the Old Vic Tunnels until October 21st.