Bazaars, exhibitions, seminars, discussions… Kaivalam, a world craft summit, comes to the city bringing along a mosaic of skills, techniques and ideas. Kausalya Santhanam has the details

A cornucopian outpouring of craft will sweep over Chennai from October 7 to 10. Kaivalam, a world craft summit, is being organised by the World Crafts Council (WCC) to coincide with its 17th General Assembly to be held during the same period in the city. Chennai will explode with colour, design, creativity, skills and traditions as a range of crafts-related activities takes place at various venues. Craft seminars, bazaars, exhibitions and discussions will be held.

Kaivalam is a curtain raiser to the WCC’s golden jubilee in 2014. The summit “envisages a global community in which the well-being of artisans and their wisdom is respected and nurtured as essential for the well-being of mankind.”

First time in India

“This is the first time the event is being held in India and, of course, Chennai,” says Usha Krishna, president of the World Crafts Council whose secretariat is in Chennai. Founded in 1964, the WCC is a non-government, non-profit organisation. It is the only international NGO working in the crafts sector and is affiliated to the UNESCO in a consultative status. Founded in the U.S., it now embraces five regions — Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America.

“More than 50 countries are participating in this mega event,” says Usha. “About 125 to 140 international delegates and 200 Indian delegates will take part, including design graduates, college students and volunteers. A number of events will focus on crafts in its totality. The USP is “Living Legends — Meeting of Great Masters” with 12 award-winning international master craftsmen showcasing their craft and interacting with eight Indian craftsmen who work in similar fields.” Mexico, Rwanda, Haiti, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Niger, Thailand, Korea, Cuba, Ireland and Kazakhstan will be represented. This is a voyage of exploration and discovery where craftspersons can learn and exchange skills, techniques and ideas, and discuss the future of craft.

The seminar The Future Iis Handmade is another major event. Craft and sustainability, design, Intellectual Property Rights, Geographical Indication and other subjects will be discussed. Major organisations, government officials, leaders in craft and fashion, activists, designers, lawyers and promoters of craft from within the country and abroad will participate in the various sessions.

A highlight of Kaivalam is an international craft film contest for youth, students of colleges and universities around the world. The films of eight- to 10-minute duration will deal with numerous craft-based topics. The finals will be held in Chennai and the three best films will receive cash awards during Kaivalam. “The films will be added to our archives and exhibited later to school children. We also plan to screen them at Valluvar Kottam where a craft bazaar will be held. Other venues for exhibiting the films are Lalit Kala Akademi and ITC Grand Chola Hotel. The films will also be screened at international film festivals.”

International expo

An International Crafts Expo will feature around 35 artisans from various countries. Quality crafts will be showcased, some of which have received the UNESCO award of excellence. “Finely woven ‘peace baskets’ from Rwanda have an interesting tale to tell,” says Usha. “Women who were the victims of genocide came together and began weaving these baskets, which derives its name from the fact that it brought them peace and solace.” Africa is well represented at Kaivalam. “Africa has a fine craft heritage, which needs to be encouraged,” she says. “The craft expertise in other countries such as Korea and Ireland is also fabulous, to name only two.”

The summit will hit Chennai with force and beauty. “The aim of Kaivalam is an experience that will fill each and every individual with a sense of achievement and fulfilment. It will be an event that touches your heart and impacts on your value system and heritage,” sums up Usha.

Kaivalam calendar

The Future Is Handmade — international seminar on craft (October 7 to 10, ITC Grand Chola Hotel)

Living Legends — an exchange programme showcasing craft of international and Indian master craftspersons and sharing of ideas and skills (October 7 to 10, ITC Grand Chola Hotel)

International craft film festival

Global Craft Mart — international craft expo (October 7 to 10, ITC Grand Chola Hotel)

Vastra, a textile expo of Indian textiles organised by Crafts Council of India (October 8 to 11, Lalit Kala Akademi)

Craft Bazaar — exhibition and sale of Indian craft organised by CCI and the Office of the Development Commissioner, Handicrafts, Government of India (October 5 to 15, Valluvar Kottam)

Jewelled Treasures 2 — Retail space for jewelleries and accessories (October 7 to 10, ITC Grand Chola Hotel)

Interdisciplinary exhibition of craft and art in galleries across the city (September 24 to October 10)

Sari, dance by Daksha Seth (October 9, 7 p.m. Lady Andal School, Chetpet)

(For details, call 2847-8500 or visit