Sujatha Sen is holding a two-day exhibition that starts tomorrow
“I feel like I am 24-year-old student not 64-year-old retired teacher,” says Sujatha Sen who found a second career after 37 years of teaching art to schoolchildren in Delhi. In the winter of 2009, she met Posti, an artisan from Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh), at the Crafts Bazaar in New Delhi.
“He was just sitting in a corner and weaving a sari by himself,” she recalls. Ms. Sen struck up a conversation with the weaver and before they knew it, they were furiously discussing the birth of a new sari.
“In the three or four weeks that he was in Delhi, the two of us fashioned four saris. My design, his masterful execution,” says Ms. Sen. When Mr. Posti went back home, Ms. Sen followed as if in a trance. “After more than three decades of teaching art, I finally found my canvas,” she says.
After her first visit to Chanderi, she went back several times and soon she was cradling a fledgling business. Slowly, she began to venture further into the hinterland. At each stop, she would work with the local artisans to evolve new designs.
Ms. Sen believes design, texture, weave and dyes are just one small aspect of her creations. Her saris are more about people and places; deft hands and smiling faces.
Each of her mulberry silk saris, for instance, takes her through two districts in West Bengal, two in Uttar Pradesh. The journey starts at the house of artisan Barun in Purulia (West Bengal) who supplies her with the mulberry silk fabric. She then travels to her studio in Kolkata where she sketches the designs. “It is like working on a painting. It can take minutes, hours or days,” she says. She then travels to Barrackpore to meet Suman Bandopadhyay to whom she gives her batik designs. When Mr. Bandopadhyay is done, she takes the sari to Nurul Hassan in Badarpur, near New Delhi, for a second round of block printing. For the printing blocks, which are designed by her, she goes to Sardar Hussain and Jatinder in a village called Pillakuan, near Garhmukteshwar, in Uttar Pradesh.
Ms. Sen is having an exhibition of her creations at the Raintree on Sankey Road on August 31 and September 1. The saris are priced between Rs. 2,650 and Rs. 5,500.