The Optimist Citizen

SETU – A Bridge for the artists of dying traditional art forms

A blend of diverse cultures and art forms practiced in different communities in India indeed makes it one of the most vibrant and colourful nations in the world. Be it embroidery, painting, wood carving, stone carving, sculpturing, India has traditionally been a heritage of craft and art forms and immensely creative and talented artists. If one goes deep into the land of tribes, one would indeed discover a hidden repository of artists practicing visual art forms in numerous ways. Almost every woman in a tribal community turns out to be an artist whose creations are depicted on the walls and floors of her little house. Those walls reflect the potential of her artistic fingers and her imaginative mind. But the classic art of such artists is not meant to remain confined behind walls. The world needs to be a beholder of the mesmerising beauty these art forms produce.

An initiative by a trio from cis building one such bridge between the traditional and indigenous art forms and the modern products in use. It functions as a community of regional artists who practice their art forms on modern products. Products like sarees, dupattas, mirrors, lamps, diaries, cushion covers, files, folders, etc are provided to the tribal artists to be redesigned with their traditional art designs. When these contemporary products come about with Gond and Bhil art designs, they become magical in the eyes of the art lovers. Started by three socially inclined and traditional art loving women, Tanushree Patwa, Palak Bhandari and Shweta Ojha, and supported by Rajvi Sanghvi, ‘Setu India’ conducts exhibitions and workshops around the entire country to promote the taste of traditional art forms among the local crowd and also to give a platform to the regional artists for their skill development.

Setu India has earlier conducted workshops in Madhya Pradesh Tribal Museum in Bhopal in collaboration with the State Cultural Ministry and in Basant Bazar in Delhi. The eight day workshop in Bhopal was attended by the local public in huge numbers (with a footfall of around 600 people on the first day) in which local people had come to learn different tribal art forms like Gond and Bhil paintings, block printing, etc from renowned artists like Bhuri Bai of M.P and Mohammed Bilal Khatri of Bagh, Madhya Pradesh.  Setu India works with 40 such artists of M.P., Chattisgarh and U.P. and enables them to take their art form to larger scale in the country.

In the rush of modernisation and westernisation, the nation is gradually losing the heritage that has furnished it for centuries. Fancy western products are catching the eyes of art lovers and overshadowing the priceless indigenous art forms. With the fading recognition of these art forms, what fades away is the art in the hands of the numerous artists who find hard to earn their daily bread as artists. The nation needs to bring life to the dying imprints of the indigenous art forms and enable the artists to survive on the occupation they were born to practice.

“There is nothing more joyful than the fact that I am able to spread a taste for my art form in the entire country and abroad. I feel immensely happy and proud when people come in huge numbers to learn the art of Gond and Bhil paintings in these workshops”, mentions Bhuri Bai, a renowned Gond and Bhil Artist of Madhya Pradesh.

The upcoming event of Setu India is in collaboration with the Textile Department of India, which is being conducted at Crafts Museum in New Delhi from 26thJune to 1st July 2017. It will comprise of a series of interesting workshops conducted by renowned artists like Neetu Yadav, Bhuri Bai and Bilal Khatri.

Mohammed Bilal Khatri taking a workshop

If you would like to immerse yourself in an enriching, hands-on experience with traditional art-forms and their associated history, you can register for the event by contacting Shweta Ojha – +91-8800211022 or Tanushree Patwa – 9826430151.


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