Much has been discussed and written about the disappearing arts and crafts of India. This rich cultural heritage is fading out as craftspersons struggle to make ends meet. It is this realisation that has driven government initiatives and entrepreneurial ventures to help these artisans and preserve their art. These are artisans who have won national awards, but seldom get the right platform to exhibit or their work these days. The Luxury League marks an attempt to promote such craftspersons by inviting them to present their work and talk about their journeys.
One participant at the event will be Huma Khan from Bhopal. She has earned a name for her zardosi work. Khan’s family has been involved in this profession for generations. She recalled that while this craft has been popular since the time of nawabs and begums, it has quickly fading from public memory. Today, there are fewer opportunities to learn and continue this art. So she organises training programmes to help develop the zardosi skills of women in her city. Till now, about 7,000 women have learned this craft from Khan.
According to Khan, there is still hope for these crafts. She said, “I got into this work because of my mother and I was appreciated. I find immense scope in zardosi work. I have witnessed that at various exhibitions. But the market does demand more.”
In her attempt to keep the tradition alive, Khan hasn’t restricted herself from experimentation. She keeps looking for new ideas and actively researches what the consumers demand. She said, “I keep experimenting with fabrics and designs, but I have found that quality matters the most. That remains my focal point.” For Khan, The Luxury League has provided her yet another dream platform to showcase her work. “I think I had been waiting for just this opportunity,” she said.
Another artisan who will participate in the event is Udit Narayan Baisla from Faridabad, Haryana. He has received several prestigious awards for his eco-friendly and sustainable art. Initially, he was a textile designer, and in 2014 Baisla was motivated to create a series of his “best-out-of-waste art” because of the government’s Swachh Bharat initiative. To do something creative with discard became Baisla’s mission.
He went on to collect e-waste, such as cables, chargers, wires etc. to create pieces of art. He said about his vision, “The realisation that such waste can destroy the environment served as inspiration for me. My idea was not to let plastic go to the air, water or sand. Plastic waste shouldn’t go to garbage dumps; it should be reused in some form. So I decided to do something different. I got a good response. People called my work unique, but I never got a proper platform.”
It’s this platform Baisla has been looking for, not just to showcase his art, but also to spread his message about sustainable art. He thinks that it’s the responsibility of artists to take the sustainable route for their artworks and also help the environment by being creative with non-recyclable materials. He said, “I saw all these multicoloured wires that people just throw away and I got the idea to use them innovatively. We often overlook how plastic is damaging the environment by not getting recycled naturally. So as artists, if we can help to transform them, that’s what we should do. I felt as artists, we have a responsibility to use our skills for the betterment of society.”