Some whacky, elegant and meaningful ideas are woven together to create magnificent carpets to raise funds for the cause of stray animals

An excited Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), bounces about like a child, narrating stories of how each ‘masterpiece' came about. The ‘masterpieces' in question are not stylish, trendy outfits but exquisite hand-woven carpets by some of the leading artists and fashion designers of the country. They are master creations indeed, for each of them comes flaunting a unique idea, pattern, design and painting born to some of the most creative minds of the fashion and art industry.

People for Animals (PFA), Maneka Gandhi's NGO working for stray animals, has collaborated with Sunil Sethi's Design Alliance to raise funds for 31 veterinary hospitals of PFA across the country, primarily the upcoming ones — one in Yusuf Sarai and the other under construction in Mysore.

A total of 40 works by artists and designers like S.H. Raza, Ram Kumar, M.F. Husain, Manjit Bawa, Jehangir Sabavala, Sujata Bajaj, Paresh Maity, Yogesh Mahida, Rohit Bal, Manish Arora, Rajesh Pratap Singh, J.J. Valaya, Ritu Kumar and Sabyasachi Mukherjee are being reproduced on carpets in limited lots of 10 each.

Ranging from Rs.35,000 to 5 lakhs, these limited-edition carpets have been woven by Floored By Design, an initiative of Sethi's Design Alliance. “The same painting of Jehangir Sabavala was sold for a few crores a few days ago and here you can get it for Rs.1.7 lakh, and it's signed by him. So, it's a piece of art you are investing in,” says Maneka Gandhi, chairperson, PFA, pointing to the 5x7 ft. carpet in New Zealand wool bearing a landscape by Sabavala. The typical geometric wedges he creates to form a scene are clearly visible.

“I am going to call my unit ‘Floored by Art' now. Getting designers to design carpets is something I have been doing for a long time, but to work with stalwarts like these was only a dream,” says Sethi, showing us the works of Bawa and Husain. While the rest of the pieces can either be hung on walls or used as floor carpets, Husain's and Bawa's creations, having deities, are only meant to be used as wall hangings.

“The image in the carpet has come out exactly like the original work. The tonal value, the colours… they have tried to remain true to the painting, which has been taken out of my series of visual travelogue done in watercolours last year,” says Manish Pushkale. The artist's map of an imaginary place makes for unusual imagery to adorn a carpet. Even Farhad Hussain's half-mythical boy with wings, accompanied by two dogs, and another work featuring one big happy family with a lion, pig and elephant amidst them, have turned out to be stunning pieces.

As for designers, they have drawn from a range of subjects. “Who could have thought a skull could grace a carpet but Rajesh Pratap. Rohit Bal had done a collection of bags and kimonos for me, and this Noor Jehan has been taken out from there. Valaya has been inspired by jamawar shawls,” says Sethi. The washed-out look has been added deliberately to the Rohit Bal carpet to render it an antique look whereas the Manish Arora carpet has the face of a gypsy girl whose photograph the designer had taken some years ago and adorned a diary with. Madhu Jain has translated the uppada pattern of the Western Godavari region, usually done on cotton dupattas and zari, onto carpets.

(The carpets will be on view at The Lalit, New Delhi, from August 27 to 29.)

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