Tarkashi Wall Art
I hadn’t acted on Tanveen Ratti’s visiting card, lying with me since months. But a few days ago I connected with the sprightly lady, and instantly took up her offer to travel with her to the studio, situated 55 kms from Delhi. And the very next day, despite the scorching heat we happily took off for Pilkhuwa- the textile town.
Having worked on government projects while studying Accessory Designing at NIFT, New Delhi, Tanveen became my best guide. While driving through the outskirts of Ghaziabad, she gave me a lowdown on the socioeconomic changes in our landscape – beginning with the upsurge of technical institutes, further down – the railway station Chipiyana Buzurg (close to Pilkhuwa) which has printing ‘karkhaanas’ (workshops/factories) on both sides of the line and on reaching, walking through the gullies she pointed out the desolate ‘kothis’ (houses) of prosperous cloth merchants who had left for a better living.
There, at a tea stall while waiting for the workers to come back from azaan, it dawned on me to pay tribute to Muslim workmanship this Ramadan. Under Tanveen’s home decor label Organic Connect, Block Project has been improvising with their skillsets since 2009. By sticking to the basics of Rekh (outline), Datta (colourfill) and Gad (base) wooden blocks, she has designed an array of home products. Thus, organically connecting with several artisans and indirectly restoring their pride; to practice hereditary traditional crafts as a sustainable source of income.
Surajmukhi Box in Datta Style Surajmukhi Coasters in Rekh style
At the workshop, she introduced me to Arshad Kafeel – a master craftsman who carves wooden blocks for printing on cloth (a dying art because it is time consuming and expensive). His family has been carving since generations, and seven members are National Award winners. In his house, Tanveen showed me some exquisite wooden blocks with brass inlay work called Tarkashi in India, and other carved artefacts, which were steeply priced. We curiously also opened the archival cupboards to view the hand drawn stylized mughal motifs, neatly filed for future referencing. In great number, these have been earlier painted on paper by his forefathers.
Ever since the trip, I am looking forward to Organic Connect’s collection of trays, vanity and jewelry boxes, furniture, screens, mirrored frames, side table lamps and votive holders at Kamala, Fab India and Dastkar exhibitions, in the coming months. If you admire the craftsmanship she wouldn’t mind customizing the products.
With fingers in many pies, she is also helping Commitment to Kashmir – an NGO, to create a viable model for the survival of papier mâché artisans, and with Women on Wings– a Dutch NGO, (empowering rural women in India) as a consultant.
Next day, much at ease in her Delhi office, her inspirations, like the traditional Japanese wood-cut printing (Moku Hanga) and few lino and block cut artists from America and Europe, came to fore. Infact lately, it’s the contemporary designer Michael Verheyden who has taken the center stage. For her, his minimalism by juxtaposing different materials with austere designs in everyday items, is just so surreal!
Now able to view the light at the end of the tunnel, Tanveen is all set to swim, drive and travel to untouched destinations, in search for more beauty and adventure.