Promising to be the country’s single largest repository of indigo art-objects, Arvind Limited, a 1.5 billion USD Indian textile manufacturer, is planning to set up an Indigo museum within six to eight months in Ahmedabad.
Spread over an area of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet at the company’s Naroda manufacturing unit, the museum will curate a host of contemporary and artisanal work with indigo.
“The idea is to impart indigo on other substrates that the world has never seen before… With all the substrates that we are experimenting with now, if I go to artists and artisans they have a huge vocabulary to explore instead of mere fabric. What is unique about indigo is it changes its hues upon ageing. We are also going to include other national dyes to further expand the vocabulary, eventually. We want to work with some of the best artisans and millions of craftsmen to express with indigo as a dye and this is the best way to globalise our (Indian) craft. This dye will ensure that we engage with traditional art forms and dye, while being contemporary,” Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman and managing director of Arvind Limited, said.
The apparel conglomerate is known for introducing denim in Indian market and acquiring India’s first denim brand — Flying Machine — in 1981. “We are taking this initiative because Arvind Limited was reinvented via denim when we were challenged by powerlooms… We are also looking to create a demand for natural indigo, thereby creating a ecosystem that includes the indigo farmers, craftsmen, artists and globalising it. There is diverse set of possibilities to explore with indigo as we co-create with artists,” added Lalbhai, who has been working with Vipul Mahadevia, creative consultant of Arvind Indigo Museum, to realise this vision of imparting indigo dye on various substrates.
Lalbhai added that he was not looking to commercialise the initiative in any way except for Indian craftspersons “so that more employment opportunities are created”. Moreover, he said, that he was not merely looking at footfall but was aiming “to have a global reach through the virtual space via a dedicated website and online presence”.
Mahadevia, who has been integral to the research and development of technology to infuse dyes on various substrates, has been working and experimenting on it for the last 18-20 months. “We are also looking at using indigo architecturally for a part of the museum. So it may have indigo bricks, indigo cement etc.,” Mahadevia said.
The company has already experimented successfully on infusing dye on materials such as limestone, marble, wood, aluminium, ceramics, rubber, paper, canvas, leather, bamboo, vinyl and mylar (the video tape ribbon), with a patent for anodised indigo aluminium.
For anyone visiting the museum, they will be taken on a tour of the facility that houses the machine that made the first metre of denim in India. Arvind Limited, which commissioned India’s first denim manufacturing facility, continues to have the machine operational till date.
Ahead of the museum launch, a special exhibition, ‘Alchemy’, curated by Anupa Mehta, showcasing art installations incorporating natural indigo dyes, was held at Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum in the city on Wednesday.
The company has collaborated with nearly 24-25 artists for this curtain-raiser exhibition with some illustrious names such as Amit Ambalal, Manish Nai, Alwar Balasubramaniam and global artists such as Gregor Hildebrandt.