Thursday, March 16, 2017

Be a Bharatvasi

Design guru Subrata Bhowmick, who was in the city recently, urges everyone to wear our identity — our textiles.

Dressed in white churidar kurta with an intricate embroidered shawl draped over his shoulder, design guru Subrata Bhowmick is an epitome of ‘Indianess’. The credit for which he would give to the artisans, the tribes whom he prefers to call as ‘True Bharatvasi’.

“Our artisans, and their art, have grown from our soil. Their art is pure. I was in Bhubaneswar and saw a dance show by the tribals on the first day. On second day, we saw a documentary and on third day, we were taken to see Saura paintings. I wanted to meet the painter and ask for his signature. He couldn’t sign though. Nevertheless, his identity and in turn our identity is through his paintings, his art work,” says Bhowmick, who is the jury member of National Institute of Design and also of National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Bhowmick, who was the honorary speaker at the recently concluded Pune Design Festival in the city, in his speech said that the culture and craft are the soul of Indian design. “Each Indian state has a different art and each art is creative. Over the years, the silhouette hasn’t changed, but the embroidery has. The tribes are identified through their clothes. But the contemporary designers are looking only at the commercial aspect. Their designs look the same,” he added.

To bring in more variety and to be a repository of our culture and heritage, the design students need to go to gurukuls — the craftsman’s house. “Our design students are confined in the four walls of classroom. That’s not what learning is. We used to have an environmental exposure module in NID, where students would go to village. But I wonder if they are doing it out of their choice? Or are they forced to go? I think seeing is learning,” explains the design guru.

He also goes on to add that any place you go to, the first thing you see is a building. That identifies the place. But when it comes to artisans’ colony or their houses, there’s so much of variety; they add so many different things. However, designers create the same thing.

“I happened to visit Raghurajpur in Odisha. I saw many houses with their exterior walls painted in vivid colours. Later, I learnt that the Government of India has alloted Rs 10 crore to make Raghurajpur a modern village. That means modern construction, which also means that the painted walls will die. What are we doing? Why don’t we provide amenities to our villagers, but at the same time, ensure that our traditions and arts continue to flourish,” says Bhowmick, who was the design director of the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad.

He also took a swipe at the Western textiles and fabrics being pumped into the market. “They will keep pumping their stuff in our country, and well, we will become pumpkins,” he says, adding, “It is important to connect with other the countries, but also understand and treasure our own values. If we don’t do it, then who will do it for us?”

Surely something to ponder on!

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