Kyrgyz craftsmen and designers conquer Great Britain

Group of Kyrgyz craftsmen and designers (total 11 people) just came back from UK, where they were part of an exhibition “From kurak to haute couture”. Exhibition, with works of more than 30 designers and craftsmen known both in Kyrgyzstan and abroad, will be open from august 20th to September 20th in Glasgow, Scotland. Organizers: Collins Gallery, Central Asian Crafts Support Association Resource Center.

Opening of the exhibition was marked by participation of Baktygul Kalambetova – Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic in UK, representatives of international organizations, members of Kyrgyz diasporas, artists and craftsmen from Scotland, England, Belgium and United States.

List of craftsmen, members of Kyrgyz delegation:

1. Akmatova Gulmira, Bishkek (clothes, accessories from terme, wool)

2. Toksombaeva Kulbar, Kyzyl Tuu village, Issyk-Kul (chiy)

3. Toktosunova Kenje, Tamchi village, Issyk-Kul (shyrdak)

4. Sharshembieva Fariza, Bishkek, (clothes, accessories, wool and silk panno)

5. Sharshembieva Kadyrkul, Bishkek, (silk scarves with wool)

6. Mambetova Burul, Besh-Kungei village (clothes from wool and silk with wool)

7. Kasymbekova Anara, Bishkek, (Accessories from wool, silk with wool)

8. Sheysheeva Fariza, Kara-Balta (wool panno, chiy, toys)

9. Chochunbaeva Aiday, Bishkek (clothes, accessories from wool and silk with wool)

10. Osmoeva Altynai, London, (Clothes from wool)

Master-classes that were held during the week by well known Kyrgyz craftsmen were extremely popular: Kenje Toktosunova – on SHYRDAK carpets, Kulbar Toksombaeva – on pattern chiy reed weaving, Burul Mambetova – on “nuna” technique, making craftwork that combines silk and


Also, on development of handmade textile, speeches were made by head of Kyrgyz delegation – Mrs. Dinara Chochunabeva, ethnographer and artist – Professor Stephanie Bunn, director vof Collins Gallery Mrs. Laura Hamilton. Collections of famous Kyrgyz fashion designers Dilbar Ashymbaeva, Tatyana Vorotnikova and Burul Mambetova were shown.

Public was excited to see the work and clothing collection of Altynai Osmoeva, student of London’s Central Saint Martins College.

Hospitable hosts organized interesting and rich cultural program for Kyrgyz delegation: They visited Edinburgh that was hosting international theatrical festival, Island of Arran known for its cheese, perfume made from local vegetation and scotch whiskey. They have also visited London and Cambridge. Representatives of Kyrgyz diasporas in Glasgow and Edinburgh were very helpful and made informational and organizational assistance in arranging the exhibition that showed ancient Kyrgyz culture.

As a result, Kyrgyz craftsmen were invited to organize exhibitions in Ireland, Cambridge and Edinburgh next year. Manchester University has expressed its willingness to have a teacher on Kyrgyz traditional technologies.

According to Laura Hamilton, director of Collins Gallery, exhibition of Kyrgyz textile can be called as most successful exhibition within last 2 years. Most of the items of the exhibition were sold during first week, so gallery had to order more of Kyrgyz craftsmen’s works.

This is second exhibition of Kyrgyz textile in UK. First exhibition was held in British Museum in 1996 and was opened by famous Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aytmatov. Collection of Kyrgyz shyrdaks and tush-kiiz were assembled by ethnographer Stephanie Bunn, UK and artist DInara Chochunbaeva, Kyrgyzstan.

Administrative support was received from: Embassy of Kyrgyz Republic in London, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyz Republic, British Council. Financial support was received from Strechford University in Glasgow, Scotland.