Maharani Gayatri Devi lives on
An exhibition brings together India's best handicrafts to celebrate the royal's 100th birth anniversary.
Byline: Ela Das
Maharani Gayatri Devi will always be remembered for her extraordinary life. From being an iconic symbol of royalty to challenging unfair traditions for women, she was a force of change and the epitome of strength. Celebrated for being ahead of her time for her work across education, women's rights and politics, this year, on her centenary birth anniversary, her contribution to style has inspired an exhibition 'Remembering the Princess', which will be a platform for the best artisans across the country.
Organised by Vasutra—a non-profit organisation that discovers and preserves handicrafts and textiles of indigenous artisans in India—the three-day show will be a tribute to the late Rajmata's grace and elegance. "A first of its kind, we have picked 38 of the country's best revivalists, craftsmen and artisans based on their unique concept or idea that pays homage to the late Maharani," says Purvi Patel, Managing Trustee, Vasutra. She adds, "On her 100th birth anniversary, we wanted to showcase how her elegance, grace and unapologetic boldness has been an inspiration for so many people in every walk of life." Focussing on the revival and sustenance of lost, dying arts in the country, the non-profit works with thousands of craftsmen to create and promote quality handmade pieces for international standards.
Parsi gara by Ashdeen Lilaowala
The exhibition will curate collections of sarees in authentic weaves from different states of India including West Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Orissa and Tamil Nadu among others, jewellery and accessories in vintage and contemporary styles, art in various mediums, and decor pieces for the home. Participants include Mala Sinha, co-founder of the Vadodara-based sustainable block and screen-printing brand Bodhi, who has created a range of hand block-printed saris in pure silk chiffon called 'Devi', which brings back memories of the royal draped in diaphanous fabrics and her signature pearls; Begum Sultan Khan Babi's collection of Jamawar and pashmina shawls with Warli and Madhubani motifs and zardozi work; and Ghanshyam Sarode's collection of handwoven soft silk Kanchipuram saris with hand-painted Kalamkari. Also on display will be saris in ikat, bagru, ajrakh, bandhani and leheriya prints, and kantha and chikankari embroidery, on chanderi, silk and cotton.
New-Delhi based textile designer Ashdeen Lilaowala, who will be giving a talk on and presenting his collection of Parsi garas, says, "Our embroidered gara borders and sarees are considered intricate heritage pieces, which are preserved and kept as heirlooms for generations. This heavily resonates with Gayatri Devi's style, too, which was timeless and classic. Vasutra has created a gargantuan opportunity for designers of various styles to come together under one roof and connect with people who want to own an authentic piece of Indian history in their wardrobe."
Kalam Table by Anantaya
Geetanjali Kasliwal, whose Jaipur-based brand Anantaya's contemporary home decor products made from traditional Indian handcrafts will be on display, adds, "This is a show with a soul, as it throws the spotlight on and gives a voice to the unsung masters in design, crafts and the arts. Maharani Gayatri Devi was a patron of the arts and an ambassador of fashion for our country. Our collection 'Royal Splendour' is an ode to her, and draws inspiration from the palaces of Jaipur. The handcrafted range includes a variety of home decor products incorporating elements found in these palaces (such as mirror and glass work) in pieces of art, curios and kalam tables. It is our way of bringing the exquisite and intricate works from these palaces into any contemporary home." Anantaya has received the UNESCO Seal of Excellence for its products over the past few years.
Hosted by Rani Vidya Devi, Rajkumar Ajay Singh and Rajkanwari Ambika Rathore, the three-day exhibition will also include a talk by award-winning travel writer Dharmendar Kanwar, called Guftagoo. A friend of Gayatri Devi's for over three decades, she will be sharing her personal and fond experiences and memories with the Maharani. Kanwar is also the Managing Trustee of the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh Benevolent Trust, which runs Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School.
Where Coomaraswamy Hall, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai
When October 6-8, 11 AM to 7 PM
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