Karman - The Building of an Exhibition & Archive

Over the course of the last 10 years, we’ve worked extensively on these kinds of projects with client and great friend Simon Redgrave (follow him on twitter @thesumofallforms).

Simon contacted us about this project at the back end of 2011. Karman - The Living Archive is an oral history project and growing archive with touring exhibition, documenting the history of classical Indian dance, with particular focus on its UK reach and key stakeholders such as Nilima Devi, of the Centre for Classical Indian Dance in Leicester.

We were originally provided the following board as the starting point for our work


The exhibition component had to be flexible as it was going to be touring. Consequently, the design needed to work as complete pieces, partial pieces and in 3 defined conceptual sections, which could be digested individually, or collectively.

This design was to follow through into tour promotional leaflets, invitations and a book documenting the project and its stakeholders, to support the excellent oral history pieces collected over several months.

Working with Simon, Dawinder Bansal (Project manager) and carpenter Ram, we devised a housing that would frame the panels as hangs in their own right. The below snap shows one of the frames being constructed at the first of 10 venues which the exhibition will visit. That’s Karl in the background, looking “busy”


The design work itself was based around natural, aged fibers - wood, sack cloth, canvas, calico and hessian all feature, with burned in typography, original scans and aged / amateur photography, juxtaposed with some professional and clean imagery to drive home the beauty of the subject matter. Consequently, the frames were constructed in unfinished joist to complete the overall picture.

Simon has a reputation for curating and constructing freeform exhibits that sit within their space to be digested in a non linear way. The design of the panels and supporting literature reflect this, with extensive use of tearing and snippet devices to give a feel for the project and encouraging further investigation, or simply “giving a feel” without the need for any further investment beyond the aesthetics.


This images shows a little more of how the panels were constructed and the design ethos behind it. Here’s a flat of one of the complete panels taken from the proofs.


and another phone snap of one of the hangs - as with the photos above, these were taken on site by some of the team members and can be found here http://www.facebook.com/KarmanLiveArchive


The exhibition is currently touring public spaces in and around Leicester. Further information can be found at the CICD web site