Heritage and sustainability: how design and business can combine to create a better future
These artists show how culture and the environment can be a focus of commercial as well as responsible enterprises. They were exhibitors at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’s 2020 edition.
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The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF), held in Mumbai early every February, wrapped up its 21st edition this month. See Part I, II, III, IV and V of our coverage of the 2020 edition, as well as our earlier articles on the festival editions of 2019, 2018 and 2017. Sustainability and heritage were notable themes this year, as shown in this photo essay and artist interviews.
“Crafts not only define our cultural roots but are a testament of age-old traditional wisdom and social memory,” explains Jui Tawade, convener of the Pune chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). The heritage handicrafts shop Warsaa is one of the initiatives of the chapter, and aims to promote Maharashtrian traditional handicrafts.
“The products are made using simple, indigenous tools by craftspeople who belong to a strong fabric of tradition, aesthetics, and artistry. Objects that are crafted by hand embody a unique identity and convey a special sense of purpose,” Jui says, in a chat with YourStory.
“Traditional crafts are a reflection of a way of life and culture, passed on from one generation to the other. But today, the crafts have to deal with changing lifestyles and compete with mass production,” she observes. Interventions and initiatives by designers can help re-establish the relevance of these crafts.
At KGAF, Warsaa exhibited products priced from Rs 25 to Rs 5,000. The lineup included khann, irkal, woven cloth products, copper and brass metalware, terracotta, stoneware, and papier mache.
“This is our third time exhibiting at KGAF. We've always had a great experience here,” Jui enthuses. In addition to sales, her team got to interact with like-minded people who appreciated their efforts in reviving crafts. “As for the products, most of them do well,” she proudly adds.
Sustainability in art practices was another popular theme at KGAF this year, as shown by Saurabh Kadyan, Founder of Corkiza. The company designs lifestyle products with cork wood, which is a natural renewable resource.
“For me art, is an expression of joy and happiness. It is a medium to spread these messages in a world full of endless misery,” he explains.
“Art awareness can be improved in India if we work at the grassroots level, with the new generation in schools, by introducing art classes in a more holistic way and not restricting them to traditional painting, music and dance,” Saurabh emphasises.
“When we do that we will be able to develop a generation that will be more connected to our rich cultural heritage. At the same time, they will become more innovative and mindful individuals,” he adds.
In a fast-moving commercial world, sustainable resources and practices have unfortunately been ditched, Saurabh laments. His company designs products such as fashion accessories and home décor, priced from Rs 500 to Rs 9,000.
“We participated at KGAF for the first time, and it was a great experience. We met hundreds of people who are makiñg efforts to live a sustainable life and aim to consciously choose products that are good for our planet,” Saurabh enthuses.
He says their products were appreciated by all, and they gained many patrons for the sustainable cork products. “Many people suggested new products which we shall be developing and adding to our upcoming collections,” he adds.
Both Jui and Saurabh have words of advice for aspiring artists. “Perseverance and hard work always bring good returns,” Jui advises.
“Look around you. There is no dearth of ideas and inspiration from our daily life routines. Design to solve problems and make life better for the coming generations,” Saurabh signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and explore your commitment to heritage and sustainability?
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