The three-day show was touted to be reflective of the country’s conventional diversity and contemporary lifestyle.
The recently concluded art and craft show in Mumbai brought five craft practices that draw traditional authentic roots yet speak to contemporary sensibilities.
As you make your way to the sea-facing National Sports Complex of India’s Dome in Worli, you may have seen the area decorated with an array of art and craftwork, as well as fashion and interior stores. Showcasing India’s unique cultural heritage, the recently concluded second edition of the AD Design Show (ADDS) had artists showcasing traditional art forms that have remained contemporary. Comprising five craft practices that draw from traditional authentic roots, ambitious artists from around the country participated at the event under the Power to Karigar initiative. The three-day show was touted to be reflective of the country’s conventional diversity and contemporary lifestyle.
“It’s nice to showcase our traditional artwork. This is not common everywhere. It is a traditional practice to make hand-moulded pottery and botanical mix, through which it is polished to give it black gleam,” explains 33-year-old Longpi artist Angai Sharon from Manipur. The inky black pottery is known to have its roots in the Manipuri village of Longpi Hampai. “We make regular utensils as well as antique pieces, but there is very less awareness among people about this art form,” rues the artist.
In stark contrast to the black Longpi pottery, there was a showcase of Kutch pottery, which uses serene white clay with delicate hand painting dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. From quotidian vessels like bhadak for drinking water, maati for churning buttermilk to paatar for kneading dough, the craft work took more than a week to breath into life. “People living in metropolitan cities need to learn how to use these pieces. They are oblivious to these real-life things made of all-natural objects. There is a lot of dependency on these items in villages,” explains Zaynab, who travelled all the way from Kutch to participate at the expo.
At the exhibit, one can also see weavers with stunning gold and silver brocades of gyaser silk from Varanasi, which was earlier used to make traditional Tibetan robes. As no craft is complete without embroidery, two artists Khurshid Alam and Naseeruddin Alam from Delhi were busy making a chair cover with dardoji and aari work. “We highlight the digital work on the cloth with dardoji and aari, and then make different traditional products out of it,” explains Khurshid. When asked if digital paint is causing losses for the weavers, he nods in positive. “It is truly a threat, but there are buyers who only want to buy original stuff and that’s how karigars survive,” he shares, adding that it takes more than 15 days to finish one piece of cloth.
Working with the traditional eri silk is a source of employment and empowerment to many local women like Zuthiu and Chilo in Nagaland. “There is a lot of art hidden in small towns and states of India, but we don’t pay much attention. They need revival because traditional weavers like us can’t do anything else, and this is our source of survival. It is good to come to Mumbai not only to showcase our work but to learn from other artisans as well,” says 34-year-old Chilo, who was busy making a shawl on her wooden frame with eri silk.