History lesson down weavers' lane

Sep 27, 2012, 10:04 IST | Ruchika Kher

Weavers Studio of Kolkata has organised Katha, an exhibition of apparel created from ancient textile techniques. The creations depict the untold stories of our freedom struggle through the story of hand-spun khadi and the Indigo Revolution

The Weavers Studio, which was founded in December 1993 at Ballygunge, Kolkata, started as a social enterprise to empower the talented craftsmen of our country, whose contribution may be unacknowledged, but, they remain the bearers of our rich culture and crafts.

To create awareness about the various textile techniques and traditions that churn out handcrafted masterpieces, the Weavers Studio has now organised an exhibition, titled Katha, in the city.

Stoles on display at Katha, the exhibition currently on in Artisans

“After setting up a not-for-profit organisation in Kolkata, bringing a collection of 100 rare textiles into the public domain along with a library of 2,000 books, we thought of using this research and material to put together an exhibition which tells a story,” says Darshan Shah of Weavers Studio.

The exhibition showcases a collection of stoles, scarves, shawls, patch scrolls, art textiles, sarees and other garments. It depicts handcrafted fabrics by men and women craftspersons using techniques of hand block printing, screen printing, roller textures, stencils, sprays, hand paint, surface ornamentation, hand embroidery, hand weaving as well as value addition such as batik, shibori, appliqué, felting and tribal embroidery.

The design of a top on display at the exhibition

“Through Katha, we wanted to tell the story behind the Indigo Revolt and the Swadeshi movement, both of which happened in the Eastern part of the country. The story has been woven into textiles with contemporary pieces done in indigo and in khadi,” informs Shah.

She feels that the historical aspect of the exhibition makes it relevant not just for buyers but also for people interested in the history of Indian textiles. The collection boasts of pieces between the price range of Rs 750 to Rs 20,000.

The textiles blend classic and contemporary elements together with a dash of experimental fashion courtesy fashion school students. “We hire interns from various fashion schools during the summer months. We have a lot of student experimental work as well, which is chic, young and edgy,” avers Shah, who admits that although the basis of their exhibition is Indian, the contemporary touch is important to make it acceptable to youngsters.

Weavers Studio works extensively at the grassroot level with craftspersons, textile and design institutes, museums and textile resource centres. The Studio has conducted studies on natural dyes, especially indigo, and promotes the cause of textiles.

“We support 13 primary schools and nine villages which are just 30 km from where we live. This exhibition will bring to the forefront the work done by the people there,” concludes Shah.

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