Cotton was the world's first global commodity. At the heart of the exhibition are displays of fashion and textiles that examine India's extensive global trade networks in cotton centuries before production shifted to Northern Europe, and the impact that cotton had on Western fashion, providing the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. The displays also take a provocative look at cotton's 'dirty secrets' - at its human and environmental impact - and at the pivotal political and economic role it has played in establishing national independence from colonial rule.
The fashion and textile displays engage in dialogue with the work of seven contemporary artists working in a range of disciplines whose work addresses one or more of the exhibition themes. They include Yinka Shonibare MBE, Lubaina Himid, Chicago-based Anne Wilson, Malian artists Abdoulaye Konaté and Aboubakar Fofana, and Grace Ndiritu, while Liz Rideal's work illuminates the exterior of the building throughout the hours of darkness.
Shonibare is exhibiting a specially commissioned work, 'Boy on Globe 4'.
The exhibition runs until 13 May 2012.