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Saturday, July 24, 2021

‘Gira Ben to most of us was the sun, the moon, a shining star’

Textile designer Jayshree Poddar remembers aesthete and pioneer Gira Sarabhai as someone with an eye for locating beauty

New Delhi |
July 20, 2021 1:00:33 pm
Gira Sarabhai, Gira Sarabhai age, Gira Sarabhai death, who was Gira SarabhaiGira Sarabhai at Shanti Sadan, her ancestral house, in Ahmedabad in 2018. (Photo: Jayshree Poddar)

by Jayshree Poddar

Gira Sarabhai (Gira ben to most of us) was the sun, the moon, a shining star, and continues to be so even after leaving her body on July 15, 2021, at a ripe age of 97. For where else would she be, but in the distant firmament full of light. Her’s was a life dedicated in utter naturalness and resoluteness to art and design and architecture, and it was inherent in her to pass on that legacy to the world.

My encounter with Gira ben in 2017 left me with a sense of delight in self-discovery. Her persona opened up avenues of self-expression for me. She provided this to countless others, too. She did reveal to me a very warm and loving personality during my brief engagement with her, which began a few years ago.

I was surprised that she chose me to inaugurate her beloved Shanti Sadan (centuries-old ancestral home) with an exhibit of textiles in 2018. She gave me a carte blanche to project “Many Moons” in the way I envisioned this exhibition. She was certain that it was mainly the younger lot who would come to see this display and learn from it. Gira Ben persuaded me to have workshops with people who came into this space, mainly students. And so, I discovered her generosity, her loving nature and even her child-like freshness.

Gira Sarabhai, Gira Sarabhai age, Gira Sarabhai death, who was Gira Sarabhai Jayshree Poddar’s exhibition was a multi-sensorial experience, inspired by the phases of the moon. (Photo: Jayshree Poddar)

She gave to the world the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, where I too was educated in Textiles Design, from 1980 to 1983. The Calico Museum continues to inspire with its amazing vibrations due to its very setting and, of course, its extraordinary textiles and sculptures.

She had an eye for locating and recognising beauty and relevance in material as well as non-material things. I shall forever be in awe of those piercing and knowing eyes; I will miss the warmth and trust of those very eyes for times to come.

Jayshree Poddar is Design Director at Himatsingka Seide Limited.

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