An exhibition featuring the works of artisans and weavers from remote areas of India will be held at Connaught Place, New Delhi, during September 1-3. In what is a laudable attempt to preserve and promote the traditional Indian craft, the exhibition ‘Elegant Innovations’ will showcase revamped versions of Ilkal sarees from Bagalkot (Karnataka), stoles and shawls from Kutch (Gujarat) and embroidery works from Lucknow (UP).
The event is being organised by Somaiya Kala Vidya, a NGO that imparts design and business education to Kutchhi artisans. It is part of their Artisan-to-Artisan outreach programme, in which artisans trained in the modern methods of design then spread their knowledge by mentoring others from other remote corners of the country.
“We found that craftsmen and weavers engaged in their art were working like factory labourers at meager wages. Their children wanted white-collar jobs and did not wish to carry on with the traditional work. So we decided to teach them design principles and make them understand the dynamics of the market but most importantly we encouraged them to enjoy their art,” said Judy Frater, director and co-founder, Somaiya Kala Vidya.
In a seamless blend of artistic creativity from diverse cultures, the exhibits will include designs by Bagalkot weavers, who were mentored by weavers from Bhujodi and works by Chikan embroiders of Lucknow, developed with the assistance of Suf embroiders. Kurtas co-designed by fashion brand Nor Black Nor White, whose designs have been showcased at the Lakme Fashion Week will also be on display.
The price range of the pieces range between Rs1,200 and Rs5,000, to make them more appealing to a buyer.
The Artisan-to-Artisan mentorship programme was devised to reach out to weavers and artisans cut off from the mainstream through people engaged in the same profession. “It was much easier to inspire and motivate weavers by reaching out to them through our trained artisans from Kutch,” explained Frater. In the past, many of the artisans have gone on to work for brands like Fabindia and many have started their own labels; and even have celebrated designers such as Ritu Kumar showcase their work at fashion weeks.
The exhibition will take place at The Attic, 36 Regal Building, Connaught Place; September 1 (4-6pm) and September 2-3 (4-5pm).