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.

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 – A Poetic Year

As promised to myself two years ago - to buy one book every month every year, this year has been fantastic with a total of 35 books and indeed very poetic with 50% of the books being those of poetry - from classic to contemporary, from love and longing to erotica and despair. 
In 2006, one for my faculty at NID had given me a feed back saying - "...learn to be poetic". Now, after 10 years I know what it actually meant and that life is beautiful and we have to make it more beautiful.  
The year started by reading Crafts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh by Jaya Jaitley and ended by adding a biggest book to my library- Michelangelo: Complete works. This book is so huge that it fits neither in the book shelf at studio nor in the one at home – precisely explains why this book is about Michelangelo!

Now when I have listed out the books, I see that each book has a story associated, a story about me - my state of mind and work at that time of the year. 
It’s so beautiful to review ones year this way!

It has been a wonderful year –
from travelling across the country to making a home by the hills
creating huge art to developing minute skills
meeting old friends to not making new
reading books to learning music
falling in love to writing poetry

So here is the list of books added to my library this year: 

1.      Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing (April)
2.      The Book of Questions – Pablo Neruda (April)
3.      I swallowed the Moon: The poetry of Gulzar (May)
4.      Essential Haiku (May)
5.      Kabir: Ecstatic Poems (June)
6.      Lullabies – Lang Leav (July)
7.      Love and Misadventure – Lang Leav (July)
8.      Memories – Lang Leav (July)
9.      Bitter Sweet Love – Micheal Faudet (August)
10.   Erotic Poems – Goethe (September)
11.   The Inability of Words – Harnidh Kaur (September)
12.   Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur (September)
13.   Mouthful of Forevers – Clementine Von Radics (September)
14.   Chasers of the Light – Tyler Knott Gregson (October)
15.   Sylvia Plath - The Collected Poems (October)
16.   The Universe of Us – Lang Leav (November)
17.   Bitter Sweet Love – Michael Faudet (November) 

Art and Design
1.      Crafts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – Jaya Jaitley (January)
2.      World Textiles: A Sourcebook (January)
3.      I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail – Urveti, Ram Singh (February)
4.      10 books of illustrated short stories – K.G. Subramanian (March)
5.      The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images (June)
6.      Mudras of India: A Comprehensive Guide to the Hand Gestures of Yoga and Indian Dance (June)
7.      Basketry: A world Guide to Traditional Techniques (July)
8.      Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art (September)
9.      Michelangelo: Complete Works (December)

Reading (assorted)
1.      Concerning the Spiritual in Art – Wassily Kandinsky (January)
2.      Creative Confessions – Paul Klee (February)
3.      Blank Canvas – Prabhakar Barve (February)
4.      My Gita – Devdutt Pattanaik (February)
5.      Love Letters of Great Men (March)
6.      Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka (June)
7.      Business Sutra – Devdutt Pattanaik (September)
8.      Vishwakarma’s Children – Jaya Jaitley (September)
9.      A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf (October)