LOOKING AT ART leads children into the world and sensibilities of some
of India's best known artists - contemporary, traditional and folk. It is
an engaging introduction to art and the artist through story, memoir and
biography, as well as a valuable resource for the understanding of art.
Covering diverse forms of visual expression, it gives young readers a wider
and more inclusive idea of art.
When Judy Faster stopped to admire Prakashbai's soof-embroidered bag in a tailor's shop, neither had any idea what the chance meeting would lead to. In Sumrasar, Gujarat, to research soof, Judy began to work with the local artisans and in 1991 they created KALA RAKSHA with the simple but unusual concept: involve people in presenting their own cultures.
'Kala Raksha' means 'art preservation', and the Kala Raksha Trust sees this as encouraging the artists to be more creative, more aware, more educated, and therefore more self-sufficient. Member craftspeople design, price, market and have complete control over the products they make.
To provide artists with a record of their heritage, that would in turn inspire newer designs rooted in their culture, Kala Raksha set up its own museum. And in 2005, it started the Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, the first design school for artisans, that teaches them to innovate confidently and successfully for new markets.
This is how Kala Raksha preserves the artistic traditions of Kutch by ensuring that they flourish. It also goes a significant step beyond by actively encouraging the artist in each artisan, giving them the space to express themselves through their craft.
NINA SABNANI is an illustrator, animator and
film-maker. After teaching for 22 years at the
National Institute of Design, Ahmadabad, she is now
Associate Professor at the Industrial Design Centre,
IIT Bombay, Mumbai. Free-thinking and sensitive,
Nina experiments with different styles and subjects,
and her films as well as illustrated books have won
Stitching Stories is an adaptation of her most recent
film, Tanko Bole Chhe, about how narrative panels
came to be embroidered in Kutch, Gujarat, after the
earthquake in 2001. It was inspired by her earlier
film, Mukand and Riaz, in which she first used
applique work by artisans from Gujarat for visuals.
Nina is passionate about how these craftswomen are
true artists - how they think, work and create like
artists, using familiar motifs and images in a
completely new way to narrate personal experiences
and respond to the world around them. Getting them
to talk about their life and work, she chose to
animate what they actually said, making the film
more intimate and "a totally collaborative process
with everything going back and forth". This kind of
collaboration with folk artists, Nina believes, enriches
skills and creates a unique visual language.
Tanko Bole Chhe has been screened at film festivals
worldwide and has already won five national and
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