Sunday, September 17, 2017

Aham Bhumika

Last month I did a guest post for The Handmade Co about my process and experience of working for Aham Bhumika - an NGO in Bhopal. Here is the link for the post.

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Aham Bhumika is an NGO based in Bhopal - working on education and women empowerment for over 3 years. They have skill trained 40+ women in hand embroidery in the outskirts of Bhopal. Embroidery as a skill and a method of making; requires least investment. Wonders are embroidered with a single needle, thread and a piece of cloth.
Two years ago when I crossed path with the founder of Aham Bhumika, I was overwhelmed by the quality of embroidery and dedication towards the “handmade” concept. They were looking for design inputs to enhance their product line.

Design is not a discipline; it is a way of life – is what I followed while working on project Aham Bhumika.

My idea of a good product is – good material, proper process, right detailing, optimum design and colour. Textile design is more of what you touch and feel than what you see.
Streamlining fabric sourcing and pre-processes of embroidery and utilizing existing fabric is what I started with. The result of this was a small collection of zipper pouches named EYE CANDY.

Ranging from local inspiration of Gond Art to global inspiration like Sashiko and Otomi embroideries, I made sure that design is process driven and is as cohesive as possible. It is a need of hour for craft design to have global aspirations along with a strong local foundation. 
The fun part of working with crafts is the hands-on approach it demands to achieve desired outcome. 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dhamadka - a "work from home" place

2008 was when I first visited Dhamadka and I seldom knew that over the years it would become such a special place for me, like a second home – the one after my mother’s.  
Traditional home to the ajrakh prints of Kutch, Dhamadka has been a place of work for natural dyes and hand block prints for me. Ajrakh to me is much beyond its process, it is more about the people who make it and how they use and cherish it in their daily lives. 
Along with work, living at Jabbar bhai’s place with his family, getting served with fresh gujju delicacies day in – day out, evenings with mehendi sessions and nights under the starry sky is what makes it a home away from home. Working in Dhamadka is like working from home and I make sure I do it at least once (3 to 4 days) every year!

Here is a small photo essay on Dhamadka... 
Indigo dyed fabrics drying under the sky
Wooden blocks / Ajrakh printed fabrics
Fabrics dyed in red kept for drying / Tools for clamp dyeing. 
Flowers / Floor at home / Indigo ground
Washed fabrics / Young dyers Ujeer and Mohammad / Detail of Ajrakh printed fabric
Fabric being washed / Jabbar bhai / Booklet for process of Ajrakh

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Weaves of Brilliance

My cousin’s grandparents were a unique couple. They never made a property of their own. Got both daughters happily married. Globe trotted after retirement and had interesting stories of each country to keep us kids entertained. Aaji and Abba as we called them; collected beautiful souvenirs and miniature alcohol bottles from around the world which particularly kept me interested whenever I visited them as a kid. Well in advance they had decided to donate their body once lifeless. This inspired my grandparents to do the same and be of use to the world until the last bit of oneself remains. To be honest, this inspiration has seeped in me as well. Their planning was so apt that they had even decided where one will live once one of them passes away. Abba passed away and Aaji went to live rest of her life with fellow aajis and abbas at an old age home in Panvel called Shantivan. Aaji lived there for more than 4 years before she said the final goodbye.

My cousin used to visit her and always told me about how beautiful that place is and about various activities that are carried out in that surrounding apart from the old age home. Fortunately I happened to visit Shantivan this spring and had a wonderful experience, one of which was dhurrie weaving carried out by leprosy patients.

Many years ago when leprosy was treated as stigma, this rehabilitation centre was set up based on the Gandhian philosophy of swavalamban and labour of love. Leprosy patients are trained to weave dhurries so that they can earn a self-living with dignity. Today very few patients work here but the concept, vigour and work they produce are awe-inspiring.

These are cotton flat weave dhurries woven on basic floor looms using a punja. Most of the dhurries are made to order in customized sizes and colors. Dyed yarn is sourced from Bhivandi and Solapur – two of the biggest cotton weaving centres of Maharashtra. Basic kilim motifs are woven at regular repeats. What is more beautiful is the weaving of letters to make customised names as per order.

My abba has such a dhurrie with his name woven on it. He says it was made in Madras before I was born, which means it is more than 31 years old. I always believe textiles are such beautiful treasurers of myriad stories. I have treasured some beautiful pieces of textiles that my aaji has handmade - smell, texture and colors of which have countless memories stitched on to them.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Do you remember?

Do you remember that call you made?
A usual Monday noon, it was your smoke break time at office; time to dig up some graves and haunt, perhaps.
I was busy at my studio putting things together to close a long project, the way I had put closure to few acquaintances of life.
Everything was pretty usual.
Except for that call you made.
Remember?

It is said that...
Some people are people.
Some people are experiences.
You, my dear, are a hurricane
the one that I survived through

and I wont let you forget that!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

E-waste Mural Workshop

This post was long due and has been lying in drafts since August 2016.
Better late than never… and here it is out in February 2017.

Recently I met a senior architect in Mumbai and she shared her experience of making a mosaic flooring for the terrace of pediatric ward at KEM hospital in Mumbai many years ago. They had tough time convincing the authority the importance of an interactive mural for the paediatric department in the hospital. Similarly she said applies of corporate offices. As a design professional, you know what you seek in a project and explore in that direction, whereas, teaching and learning is always a multi directional and open ended exploration.

January 2013 was the first time I put myself in the role of a design mentor. It was a workshop based course at NID. Few students looked elder to me and I had a major depression on the first day! This of course was part of the fun of teaching, and simultaneously learning much more! After that I have been taking short courses at NID and NIFT.

After looking at the e-waste mural made by us at Concept Art, I was invited to take up a workshop in Royal College of Architecture, Guwahati. The theme for their annual function year 2016 being Reduce Reuse Recycle, making a mural from e-waste was quite appropriate a concept.
Teaching or taking workshops related to textiles and design is instilled by now, but here this was art.
Working on art in studio different and working on the same with 100 students is a completely different ball game. Students have their set of questions, excitement, ways to work and self explore… its just wonderful energy.  

Students had an elevation of Banaras skyline from their recent study tour and this was to be translated on a wall with e-waste as the material. Each material demands different techniques and finishes. That is what art is about, being open to all the questions and searching for answers in all directions which infact is actual learning. While working with students, what I learnt is that you need to build a sea of trust about their capabilities in them and then they will swim it along…








The Gang!

Monday, January 16, 2017