-By Audita Bhattacharya
THE BEARERS of art are fighting a silent war. Asmita Potedar is one such individual. A National Award-winning hand embroidery artist based out of Kolhapur, her journey started at the age of 12 when her fascination with colours and shade and light drew her mother to teach her how to use the same concepts with thread work.
“Whenever my family took me out for trips to the museum, I would be fascinated with the handicrafts sections. The beadwork, intricate detail, the finesse with which the work was done, always left me awestruck. I began learning hand embroidery when time was aplenty and people still had patience. These days, hand embroidery is a dying art, and mostly because people don’t want to invest into learning something as detail-oriented as thread work,” she says.
Potedar is presently holding a hand embroidery exhibition at the Darpan Art Gallery up to November 12. She is also conducting a training session for fellow enthusiasts. This is going to be her fourth exhibition in Pune.
Potedar has conducted various exhibitions and workshops across the country in Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and also in Milan, Italy.
“The response to my work in Milan was unexpected. People there had never seen anything like this. An interesting fact is that the art of needlework predates most of humanity. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa excavations brought to fore needles made of animal bones that were used for stitching,” Potedar says.
The artist received the National Award for her portrait of a farmer of Rajasthan from the Textile Ministry in 2007, her second. She had first won the National Award in 2005 for her portrait of a Bride in 2005.
“The expressions of the picture of the Rajasthani farmer got me interested in recreating it through hand embroidery. It took me seven months to complete the portrait but the joy I experienced when I looked at the finished piece was worth all the effort and time,” Potedar says.
Since 1990, Potedar has taught hand embroidery for free to preserve the dying art. Her daughters, Mrunali and Sai, are both students of fine arts and are carrying forward her legacy. She has published two books, Design and Nature Hand Embroidery, and also plans on establishing a museum for different types of handicrafts as well as a training school in her hometown of Kolhapur.
“This work not only requires skill, time and patience but also community support. People who come in to view the exhibition are often dumbfounded by the work and ask me if it’s a painting. I have ensured that the frames can be viewed from both sides and the thread work can be appreciated for what it is,” Asmita adds.