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Meet Canada's most promising desi textile designer

Last updated on: August 24, 2011 16:26 IST

Meet Canada's most promising desi textile designer

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Ajit Jain

Anu Raina is slowly becoming one of the most sought-after Canadian textile designers and artists.

Anu Raina, an emerging textile designer on the Canadian stage, is becoming a bit of an international celebrity thanks to a portrait of her mother, Chapter 2, Page 1, which now hangs in the United States departure lounge of Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Raina, till recently an artist in residence at the Haborfront Center, said, "The portrait will hang there (at the airport), as an exhibit, for six months (till October 3)."

Raina, who studied at the London School of Fashion (1995 to 1997), came to Canada in 2004 with her husband. Once in Toronto, she decided to go back to studies and joined the Sheridan College's textile design program.

In an industry where years of struggle is the norm, she started making her mark very quickly. Raina, who had showed her work in Tokyo, Osaka, Frankfurt and Paris before coming to Canada, found her work displayed at the Textile Museum in Toronto. This year she was invited to show her fall/winter collection at the L G Fashion Week in Toronto. 

"My collection was selected by Robin Kay (president, Fashion Design Council of Canada). She was so impressed with my collection that at the fashion show she wore one of my tunics," Raina, 41, said.

Kay has been quoted as calling her one of the 'hottest upcoming designers in Canada.'

"I am an artist and a textile designer," Raina said. "I see my work as a bridge between art and fashion. For me fabric works like a canvas on which I print my poetry, tell a story, embroider it or play with the colors and dye it just the way I want. My work becomes a response to my strong creative urges. These urges are generally triggered by memories of my own life journey. I see my customer as someone independent, mature women who think beyond seasonal trends, have a global thinking, are into yoga and meditation."

"I make clothing and accessories for women, but I love making art too. It comes to me naturally. Though I never trained to be an artist," she said.


Image: Anu Raina

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An autobiography in art

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Anu Raina's portrait of her mother Krishna, Chapter 2, Page 1, which is exhibited at the Pearson International Airport, is a dark and delicate patchwork made out of Mylar, discarded embroidery, punch cards stitched together with a fishing line technique. The 5 feet x 4 feet portrait also incorporates free hand drawing, hand embroidery and silk screening.

It has struck a chord with many travellers, who have written to Raina.

"It is autobiographical in nature," she said. "It is all about my childhood memory, about Kashmir, about our moving out of there. In fact, my entire fashion collection is inspired by my life story."

Krishna died in Srinagar when Raina was very young.

"I have tried to trace some nostalgic yet beautiful memories of my mother," she added. "I have tried to create layers of these memories with waste pigment."

The portrait, Raina said, was her recollection of how as a child her mother would take her into her arms. "All my emotions and of my mother are reflected in that work of art," she said. "It takes me back to my birth place in Kashmir and recollection of my mother collecting embroidered paisley Pashmina shawls as a part of wedding gifts for me and my sister."


Image: The portrait of Raina's mother that is exhibited at Toronto's Pearson International Airport

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