To herald the heady hues of Summer comes the Crafts Council of India Saris, Jewellery and Accessories Exhibition. It's a celebration of the handloom sari in an explosion of colours, designs and fabrics. Woven on a simple loom, each sari is testimony to a weaver's vision and is often created with designer-weaver interaction.
Of course, the Patolas, Maheswaris, Chanderis, Benarasis, Kotas and Khadis have an incredible connect with an evolving 500-year-old textile tradition.
Every sari on view is part of the country's heritage.
In dramatic colours
Meet the conclave of creators, weavers and restorers with their body of work at the exhibition.
Vidhi Singhania's Benaras and Kotas are names to reckon with, creating textile magic with large jewelled motifs, gilded roses and vines in dramatic colour combinations. Says Singhania, “In the Benaras line, I've worked around the weave with inspiration from Mughal motifs. My Kotas have batik and embroidery.” Vidhi's saris spell class and suit today's unfussy formats ranging from pastel to royal red with splendid gold border, tissue body and intricate zari weaves.
Designer Gunjan Jain from Bhubaneswar is busy putting the near extinct Bomkai sari back on the map. With just three Bomkai weavers remaining in the village - most have left for Surat to work on power looms – she has recreated the original Bomkai with extra weft and cut shuttle temple border. The defunct ‘jaala' weaving technique too has been revived on tussar with contemporary inputs in terms of design layout and colours, according to the designer.
Rema Kumar's abstract art creations mix fuchsia, yellow, orange and lemon yellow with stylised abandon. Rema travels to Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh to meet and interact with weavers there.
“I am working with handloom twill saris woven by Uttarakhand's shawl weavers, lightweight but with the texture of a shawl,” she says. Her oeuvre includes a range of tussars with Kantha printed border, Gadhwals, Patti work and Kamdani saris.
Hand-spun, hand-woven khadi saris imprinted with contemporary doodle versions of flowers and creepers by Ravikiran and Chandrashekhar of Metaphor Racha's beckon attention. Also on display are Anuradha Kuli's Muga silk creations with dramatic interplay of block prints, Meera Mehta's Maheshwaris, Pracheen's natural dyed printed saris and classic Patolas. For art lovers, there are Shibori creations and vibrant Madhubani art saris.
And finally, let's listen to the voice of the dyer and the weaver, the real heroes behind every sari. Ikramuddin (Jaipur) whose ancestors have made leheriya, tie and dye saris for 150 years, says, “I use nine colours of Rajasthan to create my leheriyas on cotton, silk, tussar, Chanderi and Maheshwari.” Orange, peach, turquoise and deep blue, green, purple, gold, red and magenta leheriya stripes snake over his saris, creating a stunning visual effect.
For National Awardee Ramanand Basak from West Bengal, khadi and cotton provide the canvas for creative expression with beautifully woven Bengal borders setting off the body. Matka silks are another specialty; cool, soft and in more than 20 colours, they are classy.
The Saris, Jewellery and Accessories' exhibition also includes jewellery. On view at Hotel My Fortune (formerly Hotel Sheraton Chola), 10, Cathedral Road, on March 2 and 3, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.