Pick your craft

Poorna Kulkarni
Friday, 2 August 2019

Chatting up with artists of Hast Karigar, who have brought a wide range of art works at the exhibition, currently underway in the city

Every Indian state has its unique art heritage, whether it’s a handloom weave, an embroidery pattern, a dance form, or a painting style. The skills that have been passed on from generation to generation reflect in the intrinsic beauty of the handcrafted product/s which deck up our living rooms or wardrobes.  

With such wide-ranging handicrafts available in our country, the onus is on us as buyers to know a little more about the work that goes into creating a beautiful piece of art. There are few organisations which are trying to facilitate this dialogue between the artists and the buyers. Hast Karigar, which is a membership-based society comprising artists, is one of them.

Hast Karigar, since 2008, has been showcasing and selling the works of artisans across the country through the exhibition, Karigar Haat. The exhibition, which is currently underway at Harshal Hall, Kothrud, has brought different products and styles for keen connoisseurs. 

FOR THE ARTISTS, BY THE ARTISTS
Giving a glimpse into the working of the Hast Karigar, its secretary, Sarmistha Lahiri, says, “It provides a platform to artisans to directly connect with the art lovers. We have handloom weavers, hand crafters and traditional painters from different states as board members of our society. Our aim is to give these artisans a common platform and marketing and design support. Every year, we hold exhibitions in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru. This is our second year in Pune.” 

“This year we have 16 states participating with 45 artisans displaying handloom weaves, painting, handcrafts and different artworks. While selecting these artisans, the board members comprising master artisans and I, review their artworks and find out in which area development is necessary. That is how we uplift the artisans,” she adds.

REACHING OUT TO BUYERS
The exhibitions give much-needed encouragement and exposure to artists and bring their artwork to the forefront. Akib Khatri, who is an Ajrak artist from Kutch, Gujarat, says, “We have been practising this form of art for three generations now and my father, Ibrahim Khatri received the Rashtrapati Award from the President of India in 2007. Ajrak is a traditional form of block printing done in geometric patterns. For these prints, we make dyes using powdered harde (a fruit), limestone and iron rust to make colours like reds and indigo blue. The geometric prints are used on dupatta, dress or sarees.” 

Khatri adds that through the exhibition, they get to know how huge the market is. They get to meet the potential buyers here who place their orders with Khatri. 

Another artist Abdul Salam Ansari is a weaver. He belongs to the Ansari community that is known for weaving handloom sarees. Ansari, who will be presenting a range of Banarasi sarees and dupattas in different fabrics, is also a board member of the Hast Karigar. He says, “We are carrying forward the tradition of making handloom sarees that is passed on from our forefathers. We work on fabrics like Katan Silk, Kora, Tissue and Cotton. It takes time to weave handwoven sarees, especially when there are fine designs involved.” 

Speaking about the response he gets, Ansari says, “Through these exhibitions, we are able to network. On an average, the turn-over in the exhibition, is around Rs 5 to 6 lakh.” 

INSPIRED BY MYTHOLOGY
The best way to depict mythology and other stories of our ancient past across the country, is through traditional paintings, that have survived the test of time. Pattachitra, one of the traditional forms of paintings, has evolved from Sanskrit words ‘Patta’ (canvas) and ‘Chitra’ (picture). So it is painting on a piece of cloth. National Award -winning (2011) Pattachitra artist Akshaya Kumar Bariki from Odisha, will be presenting paintings based on Ramayan, Mahabharat and stories of Lord Ganesha. 

He says, “I engrave on palm leaf and then paint, using only natural colours and materials. This is our family art and it has been around since the time of Jagannath temple.” 

Kanday Anjanappa, another member of Hast Karigar, has brought to the city leather puppets, shadow puppets, and other artefacts. Anjanappa, from Nimamalakunta, Andhra Pradesh, says, “I am presenting leather puppets with mythological paintings on it. I also have designed leather bed lamps, door hangings, and other house decor items. We put in a lot of effort to come up with such craft pieces and people who have an eye for true art, buy them.”

ST READER SERVICE
Hast Karigar has organised Karigar Haat, an exhibition of artworks, which is on till August 5, from 10.30 am-8.30 pm, at Harshal Hall, Kothrud

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