Recycled Fabric For Your Jewellery

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For centuries, lifestyle and fashion accessory products have always been an integral element in defining a woman’s personality and in modern times, the innovation and experimentation in its development is ever growing. Brand Deshaj incorporates the sustainable forms in designing a new range of products like ‘recycled fabric jewellery’ which seamlessly adorns the beauty of a woman.

The art of making ‘recycled fabric jewellery’ comprises of finely handcrafted steps and processes which initiates zero wastage of fabric material. At the Deshaj Innovation Lab, hundreds of rural artisans are trained to develop these beautiful products for the demanding market. First, the wastage fabrics which are obtained from the tailored garments are collected and segregated as per colour schemes, shapes, sizes and patterns.

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Now based on the outlined jewellery design patterns; the basic foundation is created where lots of interesting elements like fringes, beads, shells, coins, embroidered patches, miniature figures and many more such forms get integrated for the final jewellery piece. These products are extremely light weighted, colourful, economical in pricing and comes in lots of design variations.

For team Deshaj, it’s a cognitive processes which not only yields beautiful handcrafted products but also develops a sustainable growth and livelihood for the rural artisans, primarily the women. For the artisans, it’s a holistic development that builds a team effort efficiency, creativity, enterpreneurship skills, leadership qualities and  craftsmanship.

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As per growing demands from the market, Deshaj creates a whole new range for every collection, featuring traditional craft techniques, contemporary silhouettes and an element of surprise. Also, these ‘recycled fabric jewellery’ pieces provide customer’s the scope to experiment their styling with various fashion wears.

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The sweet tale of winter’s ‘nolen gur’ at MORAM

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The sweetness of ‘Prakriti’ or nature is like an awaiting gift to be discovered. Every winter in Bengal, nature prepares herself to gift us the sweet nectar which is extracted from the khejur or palm trees. This sweet nectar or the date palm jaggery as known to us, has its own primitive process and art of preparation.

Overnight, drop by drop the sap falls into the earthen pot which is tied on a particular segment  of the date palm or khejur tree. Early in the morning, the earthen pots are collected, filled with fresh and cool sap.

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Once the fresh sap is collected, it is then emptied into a metal pan or tala ready for an optimum boiling called jaal for several hours, until the sap changes its colour from light brown into a deep golden brown and savoring its unique aroma. Finally, it becomes slightly viscous, slightly sticky. This is nolen gur or the non-solidified form of  date palm jaggery. The solidified form is known as the patali gur.

This fresh and healthy nolen gur adds a sublime sweetness for many sweet dish preparations and innovations for the taste buds. At MORAM, during the winter we make sure that our guests experience this traditional process of making nolen gur at the nearby village and of course indulge themselves in its divine sweetness.

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M O R A M  |  Debanandapur Village, Near Shantiniketan, Bolpur. | Call: +91 9830378944

 

The AIM of AIM

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In the beginning of the 21st century, before Art began to Illuminate Mankind, it had to illuminate two hearts and two minds in 2002. That was when Gopal Poddar met Sonali Chakraborti, and the two hearts beating as one, founded AIM.

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Over the past 14 years AIMArt Illuminates Mankind, has done more for the Traditional Arts and Crafts in West Bengal and most of India, than many organizations had done for decades. “Traditional” has come to be just an empty word, and a mantra, to be used by politicians to build their own images and gain votes, and for unscrupulous businessmen to exploit the artisans. This process has now been reversed, and we in South Asia and all other developing countries could learn from Gopal and Sonali and AIM.

I met Sonali Chakraborti through a mutual friend, first by e-mail on 2nd, July 2012, and in person on 27th December the same year, and Gopal Poddar a few days later at the Karigar Haat 2013. Since then I have been following the giant strides they are making across India with AIM and across the globe with Deshaj. What captured my mind, from her first email, was the theme for their Karigar Haat 2013, which was, “expression of Love, Peace and Humanity in our traditional art and culture.” That is how I see their entire effort.

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The most wonderful development I have seen is the dedication and eagerness of the team with AIM, who have grown into one big family, and they have accepted me and my wife into their family too. India is one of the richest countries in the world, rich by way of manpower first, then their talents and creativity and the awareness of the vast resources available to them. It was most unfortunate that the European invaders killed this creativity of the people, killed not only their traditional values but their traditional knowledge and skills. they did it in many ways, some openly, some most subtly.

They did it openly by restricting their access to natural resources, preventing them from practicing their trade skills, and subtly by introducing worthless trash from their countries, brainwashing the urban population that such trash was far superior to what the indigenous craftsmen could provide. One very good example is the way they destroyed the healthcare system that had been very successful in keeping the India people healthy for several millennia.

Mahatma Gandhi had a great vision of real practical education for all, so that every Indian could be self-sufficient and be able to support a family. Unfortunately it failed, because most of his followers could not or would not follow through. It happened in Sri Lanka too, when the ‘Father of Free Education’ in Sri Lanka, C. W. W. Kannangara started an experimental school in a village called Handessa, but it was sabotaged by those who wanted to maintain their social and caste status. In other South Asian and Asian countries too there would have been many such visionaries, who could not bring their dreams to come true.

Probably most such good hearted projects did not achieve the expected success because they waited for the mountain to come to them. But AIM went to the mountain, went to the people who had the traditional knowledge, and the traditional skills. AIM members were willing to learn from such great people, treat them with love and respect, and show the world their importance and the service they could do to society, to humanity.

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AIM was able to make our traditional craftsmen and artists raise their heads, to realize their own importance and value and grant them the respect and status they deserve in society. When AIM picked up the motto ‘Be Peaceful and Useful’ they were able to reach into the hearts of more people around the world. They managed to bring great craftsmen and artiste from all over India to one major festival in Kolkata, where they could display their skills, not only with their products, but with their creativity in music, song and dance. and AIM was able to draw the attention of state organizations and open the eyes of the general public.

Opening ‘aim‘ at Swabhumi as a non-profit Art Gallery in 2005, followed by regular exhibitions was a step towards bringing Gandhiji’s dream to become a reality.

MORAM, a dream come true for Gopal and Sonali, is their training and production centre, just 12 km. from the world’s greatest cultural education center, Santiniketan. This i see as one more attempt by AIM to eliminate the stigma attached to the official classification of “Backward Classes”. These people are not “backward”. They have been pushed back over centuries, so a few people could appear to be “forward”. It is time for them to gain their rightful place in society, so that the real anti-social people could be exposed as the real “backward” people on earth.

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AIM has been reaching out beyond borders, convincing us that all borders are man made, and the true artists cannot be separated by borders or barriers. Gopal Poddar showed this in 2013, when he was able to bring “Truck Artists” from Pakistan to decorate the Nabin Pally Durga Puja Pandal.

DESAJ is taking ‘indigenous to international’ with the innovative products made by the skilled craftspersons at Moram, and this is paving the way to train more and more young people to display their skills and become economically independent and socially recognized.

ROOTS, will bring Indian Traditional knowledge to the world, for art lovers, research students and nature lovers, through the new publications.

Our Arts and our Culture are now owned and controlled by the business mafia around the world. It has all been commercialized. The primary motive for all human action is profit. Profit at any cost. All books, films, dramas, traditional cultural shows all have become commodities. Mass produced and sold for a quick turnover or production controlled to make them special items for maximum profit. Let us all hope that Art Illuminates Mankind, can really illuminate and bring out the humanity in man.

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Daya Dissanayake is an award winning bi-lingual Sri Lankan author, who won the SAARC Literary Award 2013. He is the first author to have won State Literary Award for English Novel twice. He won it for the first time for Kat Bitha which was his first novel. His second book The Saadhu Testament is the first electronic novel by an Asian Author. He followed it up by releasing Wessan Novu Wedun also as an e-novel thus becoming the first to publish a Sinhala Electronic Novel.Daya’s Chandraratnage Bawantara Charikawa was one of the joint winners of the first ever ‘Swarna Pusthaka’ award for the best Sinhala novel. The same year Evesdropper was received the literary award for the best English novel.To date, Daya has published eight novels and a collection of poems. He also contributes regularly to newspapers.

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The Golden-White Collection

You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.

An expression in the form of fabric, embroideries, patterns , silhouette,a refinement and elegance in the art of dressing.
‪#‎deshaj‬ Celebrates the spirit of womanhood through its upcoming white-golden collection.
Because she is beautiful...

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In an array of soothing white that please your eyes in the hot and humid weather presenting a stunning collection of silk Apparel with silhouettes that compliment your curves

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Life is far beyond meaning, Life is beyond meaning and that’s why it is so beautiful”
a new attempt n new beginning…”shuddhi”

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It brings to you this limited edition of white collection that will enhance the beauty of your wardrobe . Buy these beautiful silhouettes  for the relaxed look with elegance. The white silk combined with brilliant golden embroideries is a beaty behold.

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a collection..celebrating the spirit of womanhood.she is beautiful as nature…as precious as jewel…as melodious as morning chants…as compassionate as Budha…
Because She is Beautiful…

#Newcollection #white #pure #womanhood #serene #beauty #Fashion #Glitter #style #festivecollection

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A day spent with Mooralala Marwada at Bhujodi at the ancestor house of National Awardee Kachchhi Weavers Debji Premji Bhai.

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Kachchhi weavers traditionally come from the Marwada and Maheswari communities. The Maheshwaris’ art is known as mashroo, while the Marwada style is now well known as Kachchhi weaving. This community crafts woven textiles, leather and woodwork all over Kachchh as a show of versatility.

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Kachchhi Weaving

One family of weavers which stands out is Debmji Premji Bhai’s family.

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Debji Premji Bhai comes from the beautiful village of Bhujodi, a major textile center in Kutch, where the vast majority of the people are involved in textile handcraft production. Here one can meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of who belong to the Vankar or weavers community.

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Display of National Awards & Shilpoguru Award 

Debji Bhai grew up in a weaving family. Both his father and grandfather were weavers. The tradition of weaving in his community has existed here for many years.
Both he and his wife area National Awardees. His father, Premji Bhai, was awarded with National Merit certificate in 1991 and then the Shilp Guru award in 2005. In 1995, his brother Hiraji received a National Award for weaving, in 1997 he was honored with the National Award. In 2000 his brother Chaman received the National Merit Award and the following year he got a National Award. Then, his younger brother Damaji got a National Award in 2006 and last but not the least, his son Hansraj was also honored with a National Award in the year 2008.

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Damji Bhai 

All in all, almost every member of his family has succeeded in carrying onwards the family legacy.

Last December, we went on a tour to Kachchh, Gujarat, India to explore its rich arts and crafts.

On 16th December 2015, Damaji Premji bhai came to pick us up from our hotel after breakfast and took us to his home in Bhujori village. Where we met his family including his Shilpiguru Father Premji bhai.

On arrival, we met with the family and explored the product display centre as well as the loom – both part of their home. They showed us how they worked the loom to make fabric. The intricate process of handling the loom and watching it turn thread into beautiful fabric is itself a awe inspiring moment.

Damaji Bhai had also invited our old friend famous singer Mooralala Marwada of Coke Studio fame, to his home.

Moorala Marwada is a Sufi folk singer and hails from the Janana village of the Kutch District, Gujarat, India. He sings the poetry of Kabir, Mirabai, Ravidas and others. Moorala traditionally sings in the Kaafi form of music that has evolved and been adopted by the Hindu singers of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. He has also been featured in the Kabir Project.

Mooralala had come to the village to visit his sister before his participation in the Rann Utsav the next day and came to Debji’s house as soon as he had learnt that we would be there.

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Lunch time

Lunch was served in the courtyard of the house. There is no dining table and everyone sat on mats and ate the various preparation of authentic Gujrati cuisines.

The typical Gujarati thali consists of rotli, dal or kadhi, rice, and shaak/sabzi (a dish made up of several different combinations of vegetables and spices, which may be either spicy or sweet). The thali will also include preparations made from pulses or whole beans (called kathor in Gujarati) such as mung, black eyed beans, a snack item (farsaan) like dhokla, pathra, samosa and a sweet (mishthaan) like mohanthal, jalebi, doodh pak. Kachchhi cuisine varies widely in lavor and heat, from other regions of Gujarati. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy simultaneously.

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Mooralala Marwada

After lunch, everyone sat around Mooralala while he played his stringed instrument and sang his famous song “Bari Jaun Re…” along with 2 other songs all of which are Kabir Dohas. We were completely mesmerized by the rich metallic voice of Mooralala. His beautiful soulful voice made us feel nostalgic. Damaji’s son also participated and sang a Kabir Doha.

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With Debji Bhai’s Mother

We had seen the display shops on arrival and were keen on spending our well earned money on some of those items. The intricate detailing of the fabrics was what attracted us the most.

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Display Centre

There was a jungle just behind the house which we explored. The younger generation showed us around and told us what berries we could pick and eat and what not to touch.

We ended the day with tea in earthen cups and snacks and thanked the family for being such gracious hosts.

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With the family

Come evening, Damaji Bhai brought us back to the hotel. After dinner we went to sleep tired and happy, Mooralala’s soulful voice still floating in our ears.

 

Extraction of Natural Dye from Marigold Flowers

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Natural dyes are colorants that are derived from minerals, invertebrates and plants. A majority of these dyes are vegetable dyes, sourced from plants – leaves, flowers, roots, fruits and wood – and other organic sources like lichens and fungi. There are more than 500 dye-yielding plants worldwide.

One such plant is the Marigold (genus Tagetes).

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In India, there is an abundance of Marigold flowers. They have lot of ritualistic use in Hindu customs.

Its rich yellow/orange colouring provides an excellent source for the yellow dye. The extraction from the Marigold flowers has many different pigments present which actually gives the dye a rich vibrant color that cannot be duplicated by using chemical dyes.

Here at Deshaj, we use only natural dyes as opposed to chemical dyes. This makes the apparels we produce both eco-friendly and skin friendly.

The first step to the extraction process is picking the flowers. Flowers with deeply coloured petals should be picked so that the colour remains vibrant.

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The next step of the process is to separate the petals. This process is painstakingly done by hand and is quite time consuming.

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The petals are then left to dry in the sun for some time.

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The next step is to prepare the water mixture. Alum , (no more than 2-4% of the total mixture), is put into a bowl of water and then brought up to a boil .

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The sun dried petals are then poured into the Alum-Water mixture. This mixture is now boiled till it is reduced to about 1/3 rd of its original volume. This step increases the concentration of the dye.

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After the mixture is reduced, it is then strained into a separate bowl using a piece of cloth and left to cool. This process separates out the residue from the liquid dye.

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Now, the dye is ready to be used on fabric.

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A white piece of fabric is now introduced into the dye and left to soak for some time , so that the dye is incorporated into the fabric.

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The dyed fabric is then hung to dry.

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A product created using this dye.

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THE STORY OF BLUE POTTERY

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A very early morning flight out from Kolkata got me to Jaipur by 7:00 am!  I headed straight for the village of Blue Pottery, some 55 kms outside of Jaipur.  The weather was perfect! Not hot and not humid but quite pleasant. I had connected with this artisan potter family in June when I had come on our first recee trip for DIMLI – Curated Craft Tours.

DIMLI is a new initiative Maka Maka is offering in collaboration with Starline Travels, which is a renowned and seasoned travel company, led by Cdr Krishnan, a great storyteller and treasure trove of knowledge.  Through our Craft Tours of India, we hope to showcase the world of crafts and artisans that forms a rich fabric of what India is.  This will also help support sustainability of artisans.

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Vibrant, cute, fun, and creative blue pottery decor items were placed before me in this lovely home where I was greeted with smiles and a cup of steaming Rajasthani Masala Chai!!  Door knobs, incense stick holders in the shape of a palm, little cute Turtles – all made using the unique technique of Blue Pottery!

The patriarchs in this artisan family were trained by Kripal Singh Shekhawat, the father of Blue Pottery.  Kripal Singh is known to have been approached by Maharani Gayatri Devi and Kamala Devi Chattyopadhyay of Crafts Council, to revive Blue Pottery.  A unique mixture of gypsum, quartz, glass and gum is used as the basis.  The mixture is then cast into moulds of the products that they want to make, such as, wall plates, incense burners, vases, etc.

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Once put in certain moulds, they are baked in the hot Rajasthan sun for a few days. Then the artisans paint various patterns on them and they are put in the kilns.

The brush used to paint the intricate and delicate patterns is made from hair from squirrels tail and feathers from pigeons.  These brushes have to be specially made for this purpose only. Once the product comes out of the kiln, one can see the beautiful and vibrant colors of turquoise, navy, yellow, green come alive!

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~ By Mitun Chakrabarti ( Guest Blogger)

About Mitun Chakrabarti

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Mitun Chakrabarti is the Co-Founder and Designer of RAJBOORI, which is a luxury home Textiles Company based out of Vancouver, Canada.  An MBA, Mitun had been working in corporate America for a decade when she decided to pursue entrepreneurial projects.

 During her travels, Mitun explored many artisanal works, and visited some great concept stores around the world.  She felt the need for a space of her own to showcase her designs and some hidden treasures which they had found during their travels and interactions.  A passion for design and a strong penchant for entrepreneurship led to the birth of a theme store back home in Kolkata called MAKA MAKA (Meaning: Friends in Hawaii).  This is a destination place, where one could also enjoy some delectable offerings in a Cafe, while enjoying the hospitality of the place.

 Mitun is also an avid blogger.

 

 

Chhatisgarh :: Painted Clay Relief

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Craft Stories from Chattisgarh- CLAY RELIEF

This is a story from the Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh, one of the largest states in the central part of the India. The Rajwars from this district are a farming community. The women of this community hold the key to a very special & traditional art form called Painted Clay Relief.

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Rajwars are a cultivating caste and are generally Hindu by religion. They worship Hindu Deities and their dead ancestors. Hindu Festivals such as Holi, Diwali & Dusshera are observed by them. But their most important festival is “Chherta”. This is celebrated by the populace on the full-moon day of the lunar month of “Pus” (December). On this post-harvest festival all women from the community paint the walls, doorways and wall skirting of their houses and items of daily use like shelves with “lipan” done in unfired clay and cow dung. These are painted white and illustrated in ochre, blue, green, red and yellow colours. Motifs of gods, animals, birds, trees, human and other three dimensional figures which are drawn, are the extensions of a tradition that are cofined within the spaces of imagination, and the personal life of the creator. These are articulated on jhinjira (screens), patani (shelving system) and dodki (storage bins) that are unique to every room of every house. In their core is a lattice structure made of thin bamboo strips, covered thinly with pooval (paddy hay), mixed with grog and sandy clay that has been smoothed. The geometric figures are made row upon row and the motifs are spontaneously created. The black colour is obtained from the soot of oil lamps while the base white is got from choohi, which is white clay. The process of creation includes repair and restoration of the walls and structures in a cyclic manner, every year ushering in a plethora of new motifs.

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This is a traditional art form and is practiced by the women as a means to keep their immediate environment happy and beautiful. These women take pride in keeping their house and surroundings aesthetically superior with practice of this art and most certainly enjoy a tacit competition to have outdone ones neighbors in beautifying their own house. While all these kept the principles of the art form going, once in a while there comes a person to question the status quo. This is the very revolution that transforms a traditional indigenous art form into international phenomena. That’s where Sonabai & Sundaribai comes to make a difference and take the art form to whole new level. They are examples of how women have liberated themselves under unbelievable conditions and have transformed into icons of true power!

While we had traveled to Sarguja to witness their work in person (around 2005), we also had the good fortune to have worked with them briefly while we were trying to develop a  Puja Pandal in Kolkata. Co-creating with them is always a celebration and a reminder of supreme creativity which has been used to take the tradition from rural Sarguja to a global platform.

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Sonabai:

Born around 1930, Sonabai belongs to the Puhphutara village in Sarguja District. While she started practicing the art out of tradition, her relentless artistic spirit took over at some point and gave vent to powerful imagination and thus creating some of the landmark work in this art form.  Sonabai’s personal life has a significant bearing on her towering artistic abilities. She started practicing the art initially with her mother like all Rajwar girls. They normally stay at home since formal education has historically been denied to them. But that is not to say that she learned the art from her mother. She was far removed from tradition as far as her art form is concerned. Married off at 14 to a rich landowner she found a new home at her in-laws. She bore a son 10 years later and around the same time her husband’s joint family, consisting of two brothers, split. The familial property of 15 acres got split and Sonabai found herself very lonely in her palatial new home. With a new born at tow she started creating clay sculptures at her own will and defying traditions in every way. Something used to take over her and she used to lose any sense of time and day when she was creating these. No routine work could make time in her schedule and she immersed herself in creating these clay figurines. She called them her “companions” and they filled a void within her core. Hence most of her work was inspired from the daily life and her life’s learning. Her figurines were admired by some, scoffed at by some others while some became very curious about them. Back at home her husband remained indifferent to her work. None of these responses however could shake her artistic convictions.

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When Bharat Bhawan, a modern multi art complex situated in Bhopal was getting set up, artists and researchers started traveling to interior Madhya Pradesh (Now Chhattisgarh) in search of Folk and Tribal arts and artists. It is then, that these people chanced upon Sonabai’s work! She left everyone stunned and wonder-struck. They took some of her work to the art complex for the world to view them. Rest is history! Sonabai won President’s National Award for Craft Persons in 1983 followed by Tulsi Samman of Madhya Pradesh Government in 1986.

When money and recognition started pouring in the entire village started taking up her style of work. They all wanted to ape her format. Though Sonabai-esque painted clay figures and relief work are found in large numbers in Rajwar Vilages of Sarguja today, none looks more than a lifeless imitation of her work.

Her avant-garde work beating all forms of tradition, her sense of creativity, a strong human spirit and faith in herself were primary reasons why she succeeded in carving a niche for herself and attain a status of true master who brought about an artistic revolution in Rural Sarguja without much media backing or institutionalized marketing.

Some of her noted works:

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Sundaribai:

While talking about artistic revolution and free thinking women one cannot miss Sundaribai. It is true that Puhphutara has been very lucky to have hosted two strong artists about two decades apart. The Rajwars of Sarjuga saw yet another artistic revolution in clay relief work with Sundaribai. While Sonabai’s success made everyone try out her style of work, here came Sundaribai giving a totally different dimension by breaking tradition and creating a new language.

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Sundaribai like all Rajwar Women started practicing the art at a very young age and continued with it till she was discovered for the finer aspects of her work. Ever since her exposure to formal exhibition spaces in a central Indian town in early 1980s, she has been commissioned many times by Government Art Departments., Museums, Art Galleries which eventually changed the imagery, aesthetics and techniques of her work.

Her major works include Ghasidas Museum in Raipur, a work at the residence of the Governor and an installation in State Assembly Building.  Having done several works at commercial scales, not only her style and ethos of work kept changing she even had to improvise on style and material techniques. For example, while making a gigantic arch on the roadside meant for welcoming dignitaries, she developed a complex armature of Bamboo and wood before covering it with clay and embellishing it with figures. She handled all artistic challenges with élan but never let anything mitigate or obstruct her artistic spirit or powerful imagination.

She had a free style of work which was inspired by real life. She gave a contemporary bent to all forms of tradition and presented it in her own way. It was only when she had to work under institutional patronage that she had to undergo the pedagogy of cultural biases.  She reproduced culture as she saw it with her mind’s eye. One of her landmark work includes her representation of Karama Festival, a cultural festival celebrated in her village. A lot of contemporary attributes are seen in her mythological work too. For example, Krishna is seen in a wrist watch while his beloved is seen in designer clothing. Women are shown fairer than men which reiterates a contemporary societal thought process.

Sundaribai has an evolved sense of pride and personal identity as an artist. She refuses any form of comparison with Sonabai. She clearly states that she comes with her own form of artistic sensibilities and has never even visited Sonabai’s work till date.

In Words of Jyotindra Jain (Ex Director- National Crafts Museum, New Delhi):  Sundaribai’s work marks a clear and self-conscious departure from repetitive tradition and embodies an attempt at fresh exploration of an inherited technique as well as recasting of myth and symbols in a contemporary context. From an inherited iconography she builds a new vocabulary for constructing a new narrative.

One of her notable works.

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Acknowledgement

  1. Excerpts : “Other Masters: Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India” edited by Jyotindra Jain:  Sonabai – Jyotindra Jain
  2. Sundaribai – Jyotindra Jain

Journey So Far…

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Kolkata based artist & designer, Gopal Poddar was always passionate about Indian Traditional art and culture. This even led him out of his home comfort at times and travel to interior parts of our country to explore the richness of these traditional art forms.

Being a Bengali brought up in Kolkata, Durga Puja held a special place in his heart! As a designing artist he started receiving offers from leading Durga Puja organizers in the city, to design and decorate theirs. While planning for them he saw himself drawing more and more inspiration from these traditional art forms. It is then he realized how much vitality these art forms held. So much so that it retained its originality yet was as meaningful in contemporary settings.

Having widely traveled he had seen how the artisans who practiced these were themselves unaware of its richness. Hence they had no understanding of its commercial value. Consequently they remained very poor and moves on to look for alternate source of livelihood. These factors pose a serious threat of extinction of certain art forms.

By then, Gopal was already motivated by the cause of preservation of these art forms and helping these artisans. He saw getting them to Kolkata during Pujas to incorporate their art forms in these theme Pujas was a way to keep the art alive while they simultaneously earned a living through it.

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In the year 2000, it struck him that he alone cannot make as big a difference in support of this cause. Thus came the thought of an organization that will support these art forms by preserving, nurturing and marketing them. This he decided will be a nonprofit body dedicated to the cause.

In 2002 he met Sonali Chakraborty. What struck him about her was the fact that though she herself wasn’t an artist she was extremely compassionate about the cause. Cupid struck and they decided to tie the knot! But their marriage was not exactly agenda less. Gopal found an ideal partner in Sonali to take forward his belief in the cause. In the same year they came together to form this organization called AIM::Art Illuminates Mankind.

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Art Illuminates Mankind (AIM) is a society registered under West Bengal Registration Act XXVI of 1961, established in 2003. A grass root level social enterprise, and a welfare organization envisioning holistic encouragement of artisan’s creative capacity. AIM believes that each artisan, each art form and tradition has vitality worth celebrating. AIM’s initiatives have been designed to give these artisans access and control over a significant financial resource. The endeavour is not just about creating and selling handcrafted products. The foundation of the programme is AIM’s commitment to empower rural and tribal women, both economically and socially, and enhancing their self esteem. AIM is a member of Fair Trade Forum India, Craft mark, Silk Mark and Export Promotion Council of India.

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AIM regularly promotes and nurtures various art forms by training artisans and honing their skills through various livelihood programmes of Indian/State Govt. This also helps the artisans in finding a livelihood through their art form. These trainings are held at Moram.

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MORAM is AIM’s training cum production center located near Shantiniketan. Here SC/ST women artisans work regularly towards creating various hand-crafted products. This is also a promotional set-up for Handicrafts by rural Artisans & Folk Performers of Bengal. It is a beautifully landscaped area with a Craft Center, Handicraft Training Institute & Common Facility Center for Folk & Tribal Performing Arts. It hosts a Craft Shop, Eco-Friendly Cottages, Organic Farms and many more attractions. In this facility, ‘AIM’ is working with more than 2500 artisans under Livelihood Training for the Artisans in association with Backward Classes Welfare Department, Tribal Welfare Department, Govt. of West Bengal.

Activity Highlight

2003-2004

  • Organized “MithilaUtsav” at Kanishka Art Gallery, Kolkata to promote various art& craft forms of Bihar including Madhubani Paintings, Sujni, Sikki Grass, Paper Masche, Kasida etc.
  • Documentation on Dokra craft of Bastar(C.G) followed by an exhibition on Brass Metal sculpture along with performing arts of Bastar at Kanishka art gallery, Kolkata.
  • Documentation on street painter of Kolkata using Madhubani Painting, Papier Mache Work, Beaten Metal Work, Woodcarving of Burdwan & scroll Pattachitra at Durga Puja Pandal Decoration in Kolkata.

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2004 -2005

  • Organised ‘ROSHNI’, a training programme on women empowerment at Howrah on hand made paper- novelty items making.
  • Utilitarian of the art and Artisan to give them economic support like – mud-mirror work of Traditional Pithoro Painting of Gujarat, Kalighat Painting and woodcarvings of Burdwan , The Bamboo work of South-Dinajpur, Terra-cotta work and Scroll Pattachitra of Purulia, Orissa Palmleaf and Tasar Painting at Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata.

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2005-2006

  • Opening “Gallery AIM” a value driven nonprofit making outlet for the communities of the Crafts people from all over India at Swabhumi.
  • Conducted an exhibition of Brass metal craft of Bastar (C.G.), and another exhibition, Shilpakarma 05-06 on folk and tribal art and craft from all over India.
  • Promotional work on Traditional art & craft from various part of India using at Durga Puja Pandal at Kalamkari Paintion of Andhra Pradesh, Warli Painting of Maharastra, Mud-relief work of Sarguja, District of C.G.

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2006-2007

  • Health awareness camp for women at Kadapara slum area Kolkata.
  • Handicraft exhibition at Mayapur Isckon Temple ground at Gour Purnima Festival.
  • Decoration, exhibition live demonstration in ‘Ethnoland Festival’ at Moscow in Russia for 2 months by 12 selected artisans of AIM.
  • An exhibition and live demonstration at Swabhumi on Bengal craft and ‘Chou Dance’ of Purulia. Another exhibition of craft from different districts of West Bengal and performance of ‘Gambhira’ from Malda at Swabhumi
  • An awareness programme on Health Insurance among 200 potters at Saheb Bagan Kolkata.
  • A training programme for women at Kadapara slum area on handicraft novelty and utility items.
  • Participation at ‘Times Kolkata Festival’ with artisans from different districts of West Bengal.
  • Launching a Website: http://www.aimindia.org.in

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2007-2008

  • Issuing artisan cards with other facilities for the potters ofSahebbagan, Kolkata , Scroll PataChitra painters of Midnapur and SHGs of Barrackpore
  • Handicraft training cum workshop programme for the poor, underprivileged Muslim women at Barrackpore, supported by NABARD.
  • Participation in NABARD Utsav at Delhi Haat,
  • Participation in Women Utasav organised by NABARD
  • Display of traditional art & craft from various part of India using at Durga Puja Pandal like Blue Pottery & Meenakari work from Rajashthan and wooden toys from Shantipur etc.

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2008-2009

  • Issuing artisan cards with other facilities for the embroidery artisan of Baduria, North 24 Pgs.
  • Continuation of training cum workshop programme on handmade paper products for the women artisans at Barrackpore , supported by NABARD
  • Organizing three months exhibition at Bangur Art Gallery, Kolkata
  • Participation in SARAS Fair at Mumbai sponsored By NABARD
  • Organizing KarigarHaat grand and Ethnic fair representing exquisite handicraft and handloom, performing arts, Culture, foods etc. of various states and Union Territories of India.
  • Organizing Kolkata Haat, weekend carnival of colorful India with an initiative to promote Art and Culture from various parts of the country.

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2009-2010

  • Conducted programme on Ceramic Design Development in Kolkata.
  • Participated in 6th Women Entrepreneur Trade Expo (Dosti-WETEX 2009)in Bangladesh
  • Organized KarigarHaat in Kolkata and introduced Karigar Swikriti Award.
  • Organized fashion show (Bentex 9) that highlighted the glory of handloom and khadi dresses.
  • Popularized the Terrakota art Pudducottai in Kolkata.
  • Popularized Kangra Painting in Kolkata,
  • Participated in Hazaarduari Utsav, organized by West Bengal
  • Tourism Department, in collaboration with West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation.
  • Published Craft Directory and Craft Map of NABARD.

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2010-2011

  • Conducted Design Development programme on Ceramic in Chaltaberia, Duttapukur, North 24 Pgs,
  • Action research on NRM based livelihood on Eri silk at aila affected Sundarban
  • Opening a new direct permanent Marketing outlet for the artisan members of AIM , “Karigarline” at Dakshinapan, Kolkata.
  • Research & documentation on Sanjhi art, Mathura
  • Organized Karigar Haat with the theme of Save Tiger & Save Sundarban.

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2011-2012

  • Organized Handicraft DC(H)EXHIBITION(Dhakuria, Kolkata) and DC(H)CRAFT BAZAR(Salt Lake).
  • Organized KarigarHaat at Salt Lake with the theme of SAVE THE GIRL CHILD.
  • Organized KOLKATA HAAT at New Market,
  • Organized NABARSER HULOOR at CITY CENTER, Salt Lake
  • In February 2011 AIM initiated Karigarline, Direct Marketing Platform for Handicraft and Handloom artisans of India. The objective of the project is to promote handicraft and to give regular marketing support to Handicraft items manufactured by beneficiaries working in remote areas. It is situated at Dakshinapan, Dhakuria, Kolkata . The place is highly popular for high end buyers, and foreign visitors.

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2012-2013

MORAM: Return to Nature & Tradition

Our village development programmers through Art & Craft are creating awareness among the surrounding villagers. They are actively participating into the construction of our craft center. A group of University students came from California, USA to study and research about the activities of Moram and its artisans. After the visit they have opened a website http://www.runningstitch.org on Kantha, leather and other artist of “Moram”. The workshop center, hostel, Guest house for the visitors are about to finish.

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ROOT: A Publication wing of AIM :

We observed the World Puppet Day (March 21) by launching a book on this dying art form called Banga Desher Putul Natya Kala by Subho Joardar. Puppets from three districts were also showcased to highlight the once -popular art form. The occasion also marked the debut of ROOTS – the publication wing of AIM that will help in documentation of folk culture – their arts and crafts which are on the brink of extinction.

ROOTS will further help in augmenting the cause of AIM whose vision is to study and research folk culture, tribal art and craft and to bring the people of tribal societies to limelight. The study and research is required to preserve and sustain the folk culture. For documentation purposes now AIM has its own publication house ROOTS which will be publishing books and journals related to folk culture. ROOTS made its debut on the eve of World Puppet Day with the release of five books including the one on puppets. The other books released were – Adibasi Lokkatha by Dibyojyoti Majumdar, Lokgaan by Leena Chaki, and Kansa Shilpa by Deepak Biswas.

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The puppeteers who showcased their arts were Basanta Ghorui from Purba Medinipur who works with glove puppet (Beneputul), Krishnapada Sarkar from Nadia who works with string puppet and Prabhanjan Bairagifrom 24- Pgs(S) who uses rod puppets.

  • Art of Banga
  • Baul Chhou Festival
  • Dignity
  • Karigar Haat
  • Handicraft Exhibition sponsored by DC Handicraft
  • Exhibition by Karigarline

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Way Forward:

While it’s easy to state Gopal Poddar & Sonali Chakraborty’s Journey in pieces of paper, in reality none of it was easy.  They have come to believe that these challenges are what have made their journey worth it. What has won the day is their sense of integrity and unwavering dedication to the cause. All these led to the birth of DESHAJ. It has come as an assurance that finally they could set up a sustainable program for these rural artisans which will keep providing an employment to them while preserving these art forms.

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DESHAJ is the brand initiative that has been undertaken by AIM to introduce traditional Indian-styled fabric, apparel & accessories with an innovative outlook. It represents the eco-friendly; organic, indigenous textile based Arts and Crafts. The products are produced in the AIM’s development center, Moram at Bolpur. The project involves the noble objective of providing high-skill industry level training to SC/ST communities with a rural and disadvantageous background. At present, more than 2000 rural women are benefiting from this program, with a goal of reaching 5,000 over the next three years.

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Not only employment they are very focused on taking the development to a whole new phase by providing for better Health, Sanitation, Hygiene and education for these people and keep their progress at par with global development.

However to achieve them they will need much more than your good wishes! If you feel you can contribute to the cause in any way, Please feel free to contact

Sudeshna Mitra

M#:9874148427

Emai: info@aimkarikarline.org

           Sudeshnamitra1678@gmail.com