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Marigold Diary

‘Baluchars- The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal’

What happens when you miss one of the most-sought after textile exhibitions? You order a richly illustrated book titled – ‘Baluchars- The Woven Narrative Silks of Bengal’ edited by Jasleen Dhamija and published by Niyogi Books.

Actually, early this year Darshan Shah of  Weaver’s Studio Resource Centre had put together a Baluchar retrospective at the National Museum, New Delhi. It had taken nearly 10 years for her to showcase for the first time under one roof covetable personal and museum collections from V&A in London, Indian Musuem- Kolkata, TAPI collection in Surat-Gujrat, CSMCV- Mumbai, Musee Guimet – Paris, and Delhi’s very own National Museum and Crafts Museum.

In regards to that and the release of this book I met Jasleen, the ex-President of Jury for UNESCO’s Award for Creativity in Textiles and Chairperson of the Handloom Development Working Group of the Planning Commission (12th Plan)  of Indian Textiles and Handicrafts. I felt like a little child eagerly listening to her elusive tales of the Baluchars, and their exoticism.

Bengal’s woven narrative silks

Recounting their story she began, “Textiles have always been a big part of our lives. The Baluchars too elucidate the history of the 18th and 19th century Bengal, in terms of their life-style, and influences of various cultures which came to India in search of textiles. These woven narrative silks point out and evoke an interest in us. Some believe that it was the foreigners who bought these as souvenirs while few think these were gifted to the highly sophisticated courtesans as favours, as those women always wanted to be a part of the aristocracy.”

Picture 129

Excerpt Changing tastes of India’s elite and the impact of imported cloths threatened to destroy the skill needed to weave complex cloths of this sorts. A few commissions came from the enlightened British officials. The European content of the design reflected this new patronage. A European mounted on an elephant is reading a letter or report – symbols of traditional modern authority amusingly positioned, side by side. Here the European was the patron and the agent and these subtly woven pictorial motifs were intentional.

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Bijou for everyday wear

Had actually spotted Dorothee Sausset and  her eponymous delicate jewellery label at the annual French Charity Fete at the French School in New Delhi, late last year. But waited till spring to flaunt her little blings on my pinched collar, fingers and wrists.

The designer and a Kundalini yoga practitioner intents on linking our mind, body and soul to her classic bejewelled pieces. Highlighting her beliefs through it, she brilliantly presents a little book carrying basic information on the Mudras and their meditations.

Inclined towards alternative therapies, my ears perked up when she began talking about her line – 5 Elements. For, the five different stones chosen by her, seemed like a conscious choice to connect with our lower chakras and elements of Ayurveda- ether, air, fire, water and earth.

Mudras pendants charms

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Giving ‘mukti’ to scrap

The current solo show at the Gallery Art Positive reminds me Irwin Allen Ginsberg – an American poet, philosopher and writer’s quote “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness” When the world is going mad experimenting with newer mediums in art, design and fashion, a parallel event for the India Art Fair 2019 is displaying Mumbai based artist Haribaabu Naatesan’s Equilibrium – The Irreversible till 5th March 2019.

It is a must-see, as the scrap artist exhaustively engages with the concept of ‘Mukti’ – ultimate liberation from the cycles of life. Through an artwork or design he hopes to end the cycle of the scrap used in his work and wishes it never goes through another ‘re-birth’.

He feels his art is very simple as it easily creates nostalgia of a bygone era and whimsical notes of childhood memories which evoke profundity transcending age, craft, and walks of life. Reminiscing he narrates about a four year old getting excited over the toy guns and cars he noticed in the artwork, when displayed at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. And the carpenter who was both fascinated and bewildered at the same time, while framing his work.

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Comfortably Numb

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So much the less complete

I’m looking out for Mumbai’s Chemould Prescott Road collaboration with New York based Thomas Erben Gallery. Together they are bringing a solo exhibition of Aditi Singh –Storm Warnings’ to the upcoming India Art Fair 2019. Born 1976 in Assam, the emerging artist studied painting at the New York Studio School and subsequently earned a M.F.A. at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001.

Currently residing in Mumbai, she elucidates “In all my work, I begin with drawing a circle first, repeating it layer after layer, moving from transparency to density. It is this unending layering that catches and holds me in its grip. Often there is no inner or outer surface of the picture plane, there is simply a pulse, a vibration if you may. I think essentially what painting wants is a connection. It needs to matter to you personally, intuitively, sensually, before there is any question of meaning.”

Storm.jpg

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Romanticising maximalism of Indian design

His mentor, Tony Duqutte was an American design legend who created elegant interiors, high jewelry, costumes and sets for Hollywood and Broadway productions, European royalty and the well-heeled. Following suit, Hutton Wilkinson – the grandson of the late Bolivian president Don José Luis Tejada-Sorzano unarguably stepped into the goliath’s shoes.

As a child with a quirky sense of humour his style heroes were Tony Duquette, Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel, The Baron de Rede, Arturo Lopez Wilshaw, Emelio Terry and Carlos de Beistegui . In 1995, when Wilkinson and his compatriot, Tony Duqutte came up with their first jewelry line for Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue wrote – “After a maximum of minimalism, all of fashion is turning towards Tony Duquette for inspiration,” (cited in Vogue Arabia)

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On reading several interviews given by Wilkinson the design enthusiast in me excitedly connected through email with the owner and creative director of Tony Duquette only to discover his “love for maximalism in Indian design”.

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Make this eco-friendly ceramic tableware your festive gift this season

The first Indian Ceramics Triennale: Breaking Ground is on at the Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur (in collaboration with the Contemporary Clay Foundation) till 18th November 2018. This and few other exhibitions in the recent past have been slowly and steadily bringing to fore ceramics in India. On the surface it seems like a sudden burst of creativity, which must have been brewing for a while.
Being an admirer of utilitarian art I connected with Sonali Sharma – the co-founder of Nugu Handmade  (based near the Nugu reservoir in the Kaveri basin).
NuguHandmade-Monsoon Collection 20

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The sublime P A P I E R

After a long haitus, I’m back talking about a brilliant show currently being exhibited – PAPIER at Gallery Art Positive featuring nine outstanding artists from the Indian Subcontinent. Aisha A Hussain, Chetnaa, Ganesh Selvaraj, Gopika Chowfla, Jignesh Panchal, Sachin Tekade, Sachin George Sebastian, Sudipta Das and Shormii Chowdhury magically exalt one’s mind with just paper.

Invented by the Chinese in the 4th century this became a popular medium for crafts during celebrations in different cultures e.g. papel picado banners in Mexico, kirigami in Japan, papercut silhouettes in England during the Middle Ages and how can we forget the kite or lantern flying in Asia and South America. Infact, till just a decade or two ago there were many who’d indulge in hobbies such as scrapbooking, cardmaking, paper flowers, decoupage, paper mache, quilling, paper making, bookbinding, and paper layering. So as an offset to technology (seen even in art) I decided to interact with Sachin Tekade, a Pune based paper artist who chooses only pristine white paper to depict architectural and natural forms.

1 Untitled 18x18 inches 2018

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2 active wear brands you most certainly should check out, when in London

Like any other active wear fan I keep a look out for more advanced active or yoga wear. Today being International Yoga Day I am jotting down two noteworthy new entrants in Britain. And this post is specially for the holidayers busy doing their last minute shopping in London.

NVC Athelitica

Running-Shorts-Women-A6338-1_04fc680e-a0ab-43c3-beef-a9ca712b2a04_2000xLeotards-For-Girls-A6560-2_74539ae9-d31a-4ae0-97b4-ba22a4fa4f3a_2000xHigh-Waisted-Leggings-A6547-1_0811b5cf-9cd2-407e-b247-4b30f39b353e_2000x

If you like to take yourself seriously NVC Athletica, launched this year, is it for you. Created to provide ethical, luxurious activewear for women it uses high quality fabrics which enables long-standing wear through the most challenging workouts or daily lives.

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To ‘serve’ with love

I recently discovered ISTLONDON, founded by  John William Micklethwaite. Its first workshop apparently started operating in 2013 but it began selling in August 2014. Actually the credit goes to my younger sister who bought its blue pastel dessert platter and serve bowls from the main shop in Alcati (a town on Turkey’s Çeşme Peninsula, on the Aegean Sea, known for its beaches, old stone houses and winemaking tradition) recently during her holiday.

So after checking with John I quickly added this too onto my shopping list for London as the porcelain is fine and available at W A Green, Closet & Botts, 181 Delecatessen & Heal’s. They claim to have used only the world’s best porcelain – Limoges (which is from Llmoges, France) and Mount Blanc; even though the latter is not easily malleable in handmade processes, but its sheen reflects the light perfectly.

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