Paper Power

Papertells,the newly opened showroom and art gallery in Pune,will promote artists who work with handmade paper.

Written by Rohan Swamy | Published: May 14, 2013 3:04 am

Papertells,the newly opened showroom and art gallery in Pune,will promote artists who work with handmade paper.

When it started in 1940,Pune-based Handmade Paper Institute’s (HMPI) main focus was to promote the usage of handmade paper among the rank and file of the country. Over the years,it has had an interesting tale to tell of its own. From battling continual loss in sales,facing near bankruptcy and the threat of shutting down,to finally getting on the road to redemption — it has all sunk into the place. Now as one walks into the HMPI,there is a marked change in the atmosphere. Almost akin to a fresh whiff of life and modernity being infused in its aging structures. Papertells,a showroom and art gallery in the premises of HMPI,has been a part of the plan to popularise the products being made there.

The intention is evident in the manner in which the interiors have been done up too. While the open-air art gallery is still bare,the showroom tells a different story. The floor is done dark wood panelling,but it’s the walls and the ceiling that give the place its distinct look,living up to the theme of the place. Made out of paper pulp,the structures serve not only as a vivid display portal but are also aesthetically designed to merge into the natural curves of the room. Jeetendra Sonar,Director of Papertells,says,“Three years ago when we took over the institute,it was on the verge of dying for want of better structuring. After bringing the production up to its optimum capacity now,we decided to launch a new showroom and art gallery here. The idea was to have manufacturing,retailing,showcasing and promotion of products all under one roof. Hence,when we began designing the interiors,one of the most important things was to involve the product itself in the design,which explains the paper pulp walls and ceilings.” There are compartments dug into the paper pulp walls displaying 450 types of paper,handmade diaries,photo frames,idols and pen stands.

While the interiors are definitely the talking point for the showroom,Sonar is most excited about the work that will be done at the art gallery in coming months. The idea,as artist Chitra Mete says,is to promote new as well as established artists. “Handmade paper is one of the most preferred drawing surfaces for artists. The texture,glaze,and the built quality are exceptionally high. So we will highlight the HMPI by exhibiting works done on handmade paper. In addition we will also be retailing paintings,” says Mete,who’s working with Sonar on the project.

The open-air art gallery will see its first exhibition on June 1,which Sonar says is also the third anniversary of them taking over the place. “We want to use it as a platform for even those artists who specialise in Madhubani,Warli and other such art forms. Folk art and calligraphy will also be featured here. The benefit will be dual — while we would be able to popularise the place,artists will be able to earn a revenue by conducting workshops here,” says Sonar.

Pointing to the giant trees surrounding the gallery’s bare walls,he says,“Sitting under a tree in a huge campus like this and learning how to paint traditional folk arts is something that people of all ages would definitely enjoy.”

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