Helping hand for neglected art forms

Helping hand for neglected art forms

Even as Delhiites sweated it out in the sultry weather, the scorching sun managed to bring a smile to a few faces.

Observing a group of young girls hurriedly shifting a heap of terracotta plaques under the sun would typically remind one of the old adage “make hay while the sun shines”. Once ready, the Molela terracotta tiles will adorn household walls.

At a time when regional and folk art forms are languishing, an NGO is trying to preserve these art forms by holding workshops.

Happy Hands Foundation is reinventing rural art forms by educating a group of young girls on the traditional folk art form from Molela district of Rajasthan.

The organisation is also providing a platform to the urban audience to learn about the cultural traditions of various communities.

“Conducting workshops is a great way to let the urban population get a taste of regional art forms,” says Rajendra, a potter from Molela.

Rajendra, who has been making tiles since childhood considers himself a “master of the trade” now. His father Mohan Lal was conferred Padma Shri in 2012 for keeping alive the tradition of colourful plaques sporting vivid human expressions and daily chores of rural life.

The organisation is also planning to document and archive Himalayan heritage, people’s lives and various art forms intrinsic to the region.

A platform like artisans’ residency has given artists engaged in rural art forms an opportunity to stumble upon new technologies and designs, discover the market, finding the target audience and more importantly to mingle with artists from other states.

The NGO organises such a meet on a yearly basis.

“Though artists would want to meet more regularly, lack of funds is a major constraint. So far, we have managed to arrange two such meets.

It was during one such meet that an artist reinvented Cheriyal art form,” said Medhavi Gandhi, founder of the five-year-old organisation.

Drawing inspiration from a salesperson fidgeting with a pen, a Cheriyal artist started making 3D pen stands.

While some NGOs are conducting workshops to create a common ground for urban and rural folk art, others are working at the grassroots level to make greater impact on artisans’ lives.

“By using information and communication technologies, a group of 300-400 musicians have been able to document and archive oral traditions of Kutch.

Community radio project is an example of the initiative, said Preeti Soni, one of the members of the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS).

Khamir, another kutch-based NGO has been able to preserve more than eight craft forms. They have been working with artisans practising various textiles and non-textiles crafts as the largest district in India, Kutch is home
to the highest number of folk art forms.

Lacquered woodcraft which is practised by Vadhas, a nomadic community, are honing their skills in new technologies to keep the art form alive.

“However, sustaining mass production of handicraft products to provide greater income to the artists is a major problem as factory-style production can’t deliver the essence of hand-woven artefacts,” said Harish Hurmad, a member of Khamir.

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