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Sew, here is an artist.

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Eddie Mair | 10:29 UK time, Thursday, 17 September 2009

Nigel Wrench writes:


"This is the leading Indian artist N S Harsha with some of the 192 sewing machines that, in part, make up a work called "Nations", just installed in the Institute of International Visual Arts in Shoreditch, east London.


Each machine has on it a hand-painted flag, one each for every member of the United Nations, linked together by strings of wool, often tangled in knots.

The metaphor is clear enough: when last were international relations easily untangled? All exhibited in a district of London that in the 17th century was the heart of the capital's textile industry. The tiers of sewing machines create a claustrophobia akin to a sweatshop.

Mr Harsha is on PM this evening. He won the Artes Mundi award last year, one of the richest in Britain. At the height of the contemporary art boom one of his paintings sold for $6.4million at auction in Hong Kong. Was this boom the art world's equivalent of a bubble?

Mr Harsha replies obliquely: "I would paint a bubble. I don't need to get involved in the bubble, whether it goes up or down or bursts. Sound is what it produces, so I would enjoy the sound either way."

About this piece and its viewers, he says: "Maybe when they walk in they understand, but when they leave better they don't understand. I really like that situation.""


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