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Nilambur potters host craft lovers from afar

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CLAY ART: A sculpture in clay done by the artisans of Aruvakode, Nilambur.
CLAY ART: A sculpture in clay done by the artisans of Aruvakode, Nilambur.

Staff Reporter

NILAMBUR: Kumbham, a collective of the potter community at Aruvakode near here, hosted a two-day gathering of handicraft and art aficionados from different parts of the country. The meeting tried to address various issues facing the sustainability of traditional crafts.

The gathering had people of various professions, including architects, automobile designers, software developers, crafts and design students and teachers, non-governmental organizations, and natural scientists from places like Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Bastar, Belgaum and Adilabad.

They spent the weekend with the children of Aruvakode, learning and imparting knowledge in an informal ambience. They fell in love with tapioca and coconut chutney served for breakfast. The two-day event marked three exhibitions of the works done by the children of Aruvakode.

The clay works done by children during the summer holiday workshop series titled ‘sensing nature and knowing nature’, the clay works of Kumbham, and the products of the Enable Artisan project were on display for two days.

Much of the discussion focused on the Enable Artisan project, a unique scheme aimed at helping the potter community of Aruvakode to take their craft to newer heights.

Explaining the project, K.B. Jinan, the patron of the potter community, said that it would enable the young artisans of the traditional potter community to take forward their skills as a viable livelihood option by equipping them with necessary skills such as entrepreneurship, communication, designing ability, functional computer and accounting ability. It would also enable them to establish links with relevant players.

The ‘Enable Artisan project’ will give the potters exposure to the urban population and help them better understand the ecological sensitivity of their craft, modern ways of marketing, Internet and web marketing, new designs, and potential in the building industry and tourism.

They will be given hands-on training in various modern communication media. In the last leg of the two-year project, the candidates will be helped to set up production centres in their respective villages. Mr. Jinan said that the project would be unique in its collaborative nature in raising the funds required for it. About Rs. 29 lakh is the estimated cost of the project. The project, he said, has been made a democratic one by opening up for interested people to collaborate.

“About 2,500 people chipping in Rs. 1,000 each is what we needed,” said Mr. Jinan.

The project, according to Mr. Jinan, will have far-reaching results. The trainees are expected to influence their villages with their new improved skills and new ideas.

There will be at least 600 new products, which will be documented as a blue print for the other crafts such as brass, bamboo, textile, and stone.

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