N C R   S T O R I E S


A trek through the heritage trail
Ravi Bhatia

The ongoing exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi here showcases the journey of heritage artisans from the villages in Reni block in Alwar district mainly through the medium of their product development and live demonstration. The exhibition also captures through photographs, the lifestyles of the artisans and various attempts to bring into the mainstream the heritage artisans. The journey towards mainstreaming started some eight months ago. The exhibition showcases the products of the heritage artisans and provides also a glimpse of their working conditions and lifestyles through visual images.

The Society for Development Studies (SDS), for the last one and half decade, is engaged in active policy research on development and empowerment of the marginalized artisans community as a part of fulfillment of its institutional mandate. The exhibition is the outcome of an action research project on empowerment process of the marginalised artisans that encompasses a number of strategies, such as development of community cohesion, value addition to the livelihood products through new designs - using the traditional styles, productivity-enhancement with upgrading of skills and production technology, marketing intelligence, access to credit and other support services. Convergence of other supports for improved quality of life is an important component of the SDS development strategies.

The exhibition was inaugurated on February 14 by Mr B K Sundar Ray, Member Secretary, National Capital Region (NCR)Planning Board, Government of India. This was following a decision taken by the Board that the entire Alwar region would be deemed as part of the NCR. Earlier only the urban town of Alwar was included.

Mr Sundar Ray appreciated the uniqueness and quality of the products of the artisans. Recognising that the growth of counter magnets of Delhi in small towns and rural areas in the NCR could be mainly through the informal sector economic activities, he felt confident that the heritage artisans can play a critical role. Their deft fingers and open mind can, with suitable training, produce a range of new and innovative products that were seen in the exhibition. He admitted that many of these products are really new. Some of the ones that he particularly pointed out were a three feet model in mud of the Qutub Minar, a sophisticated two feet high mithi lamp that can replace the metal lamp, a picturesque dust bin that could be an attractive decorative piece, and a set of tea cups in terracotta. He appreciated the beautiful range of colours, attained through the natural process of heating.

The project and exhibition has been organized by SDS with the support of the Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. Dr Vinay D.Lall, Director SDS, mentioned that this programme in Alwar rural area is a follow up of the strategy implemented by the SDS in Alwar town over the last three years, on the basis of its policy research work for the NCR Planning Board in the last 15 years. The Alwar town project recently received the UNDP Award 2003 for a Good Practice in Poverty Reduction, Informal Sector and Good Governance.

Urban mirror

The workmanship of Kalam Patua
The workmanship of Kalam Patua.

Gallery Espace is showcasing the paintings of Kalam Patua at the Community Centre, New Friends Colony, here. The exhibition, which is on till March 3, is curated by Jyotindra Jain, a well-known art critic and curator.

Born in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, Patua had his initial schooling in the village and subsequently obtained a diploma as a mechanical fitter. But for him tinkering with engine and machine parts was not his forte. Having been exposed to the traditional story telling scroll painting by his uncle, Baidyanath Patua, from early childhood Kalam developed his skills and was soon known in the Kolkata art circles as an up and coming artist in his own right. He was commissioned to paint a scroll of the French Revolution by the Alliance Francaise in 1990. Subsequently, he started studying the Kalighat paintings and copied scores of them from books virtually mastering the style.

Like his predecessors, who reflected the contemporary urban life in their works, Kalam too depicts scenes from the back lanes of the sprawling West Bengal metropolis.

Grace and beauty

SHUDHU TUMI CHARULATA - A watercolour painting by Sudip Roy
- A watercolour painting by Sudip Roy.

Gallery Art Indus presents “Shudhu Tumi Charulata”, a solo exhibition of water colours by Sudip Roy at Shridharani Gallery from February 20-29.

In this series titled ‘Shudhu Tumi Charulata’, the artist is seemingly engrossed, one may say, with his dream girl, the epitome of grace and beauty, an attractive feminine form to which he seeks to draw the viewers’ attention. She is more often to be seen in reclining postures on a bedstead of yesteryears, except in two or three compositions, when she is seen standing before the mirror. The pictorial compositions incorporating plain white saris or even fashionable furniture in parts (a reflection of one time life of lavishness and luxury) have found inclusion, the artistic purpose always appears as if to convey primarily a state of some fatigue or depression of the character depicted.

However, according to critics, the artist succeeds in leaving a distinct stamp of workmanship in overall treatment, the brushwork in particular, and showing glowing skin with soft colour touches. His superb control over the medium readily impresses all. It must also be added here that there is no frontal view of the heroine in any of the frames. Perhaps this is done deliberately with darkness covering up the particular portion, following use of sombre colours, believing this imaginary Charulata to be his exclusive preserve. It may be that Tagore’s heroine of the same name, made better known by Satyajit Ray, will come to mind here.

Sudip Roy’s becoming an artist is somewhat of a logical development. His love for beauty or awakening to art began due to his proximity to nature. Growing up as he did with open blue sky extending to the distant horizon, with green fields around him and the vast expanse of the Ganga with grey or golden water rolling close by. Apart from the colourful world outside, the musical atmosphere at home proved yet another stimulus accentuating the artistic inclination noticed in the young boy. So, when at the end of the school stage, at Beharampore, the young aspirant opted for art as a vocation, he hardly had any difficulty in getting the parental nod.

For the eager lad, formal training in art in Kolkata turned out to be both significant and valuable in acquiring the necessary technical skill, as also in developing much needed experimental attitude and self-confidence. It became quite apparent in his later decision to move away and make Delhi his base.

His earlier works depicting the riverfront and Victoria Memorial in Kolkata as well as the output relating to Delhi’s archaeological buildings and mausoleums, noted for linear quality and fine colour touches, impressed many art lovers. The exhibition will be on till February 20.

Touching lives

An artwork of Barbara Hind
An artwork of Barbara Hind.

An exhibition of photographs by Barbara Hind at the Art Gallery, India International Centre Annexe, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, from February to 2nd March.

Barbara Hind has a first class honours degree in Media Studies and an MA in photography. She is a visiting lecturer in the UK and abroad and is attached to the Department of Anthropology at the National University of Mongolia.

During the last two years she has exhibited her work in Australia, Canada, Korea, Japan, India, Germany, and the UK. In 2001 she became the first westerner to be invited to exhibit at the National Museum of Mongolian History, Ulan Bator.

Currently Barbara is an artist in residence in a UK project which is designed to encourage individuals to join together to take ownership in the development of their rural communities. She has published two books of photographs, `Going Home: Continuity and change in Modern Mongolia’ and `Nottinghamshire Mounted Police’.

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