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Salt of the Earth: Weaving the concept of satyagraha in different hues

Shelly Jyoti weaves the concept of satyagraha in different hues.

Written by Vandana Kalra |
Updated: September 9, 2014 12:08:01 pm
The artist uses khadi and Ajrakh prints to discuss possibilities of alternative societies. The artist uses khadi and Ajrakh prints to discuss possibilities of alternative societies.

Salt. It united the nation more than 70 years back. Led by Gandhi, the 200 mile long Dandi March resulted in the amendment of salt taxes, but salt remained a symbol of non violence. This spirit of peaceful rebellion is now being woven into khadi as works of art.

Suspended from the roof in a hall at the India International Centre is 30 m of eight ply khadi printed with Pali calligraphy. In the work titled Integrating Khadi, artist Shelly Jyoti expresses the Gandhian concept of promoting the production of khadi in villages. “I am exploring that if the urban population pledges to buy and wear khadi as one’s duty, can this action of swadharma bridge the rural and urban gap?” says Jyoti. Shaped like ship sails, they give a kinetic feel to the work. “It shows how people were surging ahead with Gandhi,” says the Delhi-based artist.

Featuring more than 40 works, the exhibition titled “The Salt March Series II” is a sequel to Jyoti’s show last year that explored the same theme. In continuation from the previous edition, the artist has worked with artisans and craftspeople from Bhuj. “I also worked with Junaid Ismail Khatri, son of (master craftsman) Ismail Mohammed Khatri,” says the 56-year-old.

In keeping with the Ajrak tradition, the artist borrows from centuries old geometrical patterns and uses natural dyes. “The patterns share similarities with ancient Indus Valley Civilization patterns and those on medieval cloths traded along the Indian Ocean route,” says Jyoti. She has documented the blocks used by Ajrakh printers of Ajrakpur in Bhuj in the work In Timeless Silhouettes: Blouses, a series of seven different silhouettes of blouses worn by contemporary women in India.

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The relevance of satyagraha in contemporary times is also discussed. For instance, in Allow Me to Grow Without Fear, Jyoti puts together Ajrakh baby frocks, expressing the feelings of a girl child and her desire to grow up without fear of molestation
or assault.

The exhibition is on at Art Gallery, IIC, till September 15. Contact: 2461 9431

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