Analog, digital, universal: Kala Ghoda Arts Festival wraps up its 20th annual edition
In the second of four photo essays on Mumbai’s favourite festival for arts, we share more artist insights along with a range of traditional and contemporary displays.
PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 295 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
This year, Mumbai’s annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) is celebrating its 20th anniversary as well as the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. See YourStory’s earlier coverage of the 2018 and 2017 festivals, as well as the 2019 edition’s organiser insights and Part I of our photo essay series.
The nine-day event features installations, art works, craft exhibition, literature, culinary workshops, children’s activities, theatre, dance shows, and music performances. There are also exhibits in the nearby galleries such as Jahangir, MMB, DAG and Artisans’ Centre.
The exhibitions feature digital art in addition to traditional “analogue” works. As shown in this photo essay, the art works collectively send across messages on the universality of creativity and a salute to the human spirit of exploration and enterprise.
“Viewing and buying art are good first steps, but more people need to get to know what the craftspersons go through and understand the story of the craft,” said Vishpala Hundekari, co-founder of Ekibeki, in a chat with YourStory. It will also help to empathise with the struggles and hard work of the artisans and give them the respect and money they deserve.
Founded in 2005, Ekibeki is a social enterprise identifying dying crafts and undertaking initiatives for their development and sustenance. The company’s name comes from a combination of the Marathi words eki (odd, unique, unity) and beki (even, common, diversity).
Crafts are revived through design interventions, skill and capacity building, product development, market development, and creating self-governing mechanisms in community clusters in their natural habitat. Vishpala studied at VNIT (Nagpur) and NID (Ahmedabad), and was an interior designer for 20 years. Co-founder Neelesh Hundekari has over 25 years of experience in industry and management consulting.
Exhibiting at KGAF is a great experience for the art and crafts community. “It is wonderful to see so many people curious about crafts. It's a great exposure for our artisans who get to interact with the audience on a one on one basis and understand their tastes and preferences,” Vishpala adds.
She also offers tips to aspiring artists: belief, patience and perseverance. “Believe in yourself – if you don't believe in yourself, how will others believe in you? Have lots of patience, it takes time for people to discover new artists. You will also feel like giving up very often – don’t give up, persevere,” Vishpala urges.
Art also improves inner confidence and strength. “Surrounding yourself with a little art gives you a deeper connection with yourself,” explains Akanksha Rastogi, an artist from Moradabad who studied art in Delhi.
“Art widens your imagination and extends your horizons. It increases your emotional quotient and elevates your happiness,” she adds.
“Art for us is an inner-most feeling expressed through creating meaningful pieces of communication in a product form,” says Parveen Jiterwal, Founder and CEO of recycled art firm KaReGhar. The founding team includes Radhika Butala, Ankita Parab and Haider Mehta.
“Always be open to suggestions and criticisms,” Parveen advises aspiring artists. “Be more interactive and accepting. What you make has to be true to the promise that you are committing to your customers,” he explains.
The rise in the art and design boom in India is also leading to growing awareness about the country’s rich crafts heritage. “Our message to customers is to understand the effort that goes behind making every product: right from the artisan who learns and unlearns skills, designers who bring contemporary freshness to it, and every other person in the value chain who had an impact on the creation,” emphasises Pratima Sinha, who co-founded Nurture India Handicrafts along with Somya Suresh in 2017.
“We think being a conscious consumer is a real need of the hour today,” she adds. She offers a number of tips to aspiring artists as well. “Study the market really well. Don't be worried too much about being different – you will eventually find it and it will set you apart from others. Do more than you think you can, and then do a little more,” Pratima signs off.
Now, what have you done today to open your imagination and push your boundaries in the offline and online worlds?
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