Art

French students learn the art of Indian handicrafts

A profusion of colour: In East Meets West workshops, French students learnt the art and craft of Indian handicraft at Tharangini Studios

On a pleasant Tuesday morning, a group of 40 students from LISAA School of Design, Bengaluru, including 20 from France, were busy at work at a dyeing and block printing workshop at Tharangini Studios. Cloths in striking colours and prints, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, were hung to dry. At one end, students were learning the technique of block printing from 67-year-old Krishna Bhatt, who has been working at Tharingini for 40 years. “I taught them how to print, how to take the colour, I then showed the design,” says Krishna as a student combines blocks on a cloth and layers it with different colours. “The first is the outline (in black), then comes the second colour (red) and the third (yellow).”

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 15/02/2020 French students learning traditional block printing and dyeing methods at 
' Tarangini ' in Bengaluru on 15th February 2020 . Photo: Bhagya Prakash K / THE HINDU

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 15/02/2020 French students learning traditional block printing and dyeing methods at ' Tarangini ' in Bengaluru on 15th February 2020 . Photo: Bhagya Prakash K / THE HINDU   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

The students worked with natural fabric dyes made from Indian herbs such as mehndi and mulethi. Padmini Govind, proprietor, Tharangini Studios, says: “This is our third year with LISAA. Our goal at Tharangini is to sustain in handblock printing in natural dyes.” Padmini carries forward their sustainability mission by conducting workshops and exposing next generation designers to traditional handicrafts.

“We conduct workshops in association with LISAA and other colleges. We started in a small way with LISAA. The Bangalore students were coming to us for shorter programmes. This is the first time the third year students from Paris came along side the first year students of Bangalore, so that is a rich learning experience especially for the junior students because not only did they learn the craft, they learnt how to interpret it through the seniors as well.”

The overall theme of the three-day long workshop, says Padmini, is sustainability. “People use the word ‘sustainability’ a lot these days. We teach students how we put that in context of what we do as textile producers. So more than coming and learning the hand craft, the students need to understand the larger context of how hand craft is applicable to fashion today in a context of an art globalised world.”

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 15/02/2020 French students learning traditional block printing and dyeing methods at 
' Tarangini ' in Bengaluru on 15th February 2020 . Photo: Bhagya Prakash K / THE HINDU

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 15/02/2020 French students learning traditional block printing and dyeing methods at ' Tarangini ' in Bengaluru on 15th February 2020 . Photo: Bhagya Prakash K / THE HINDU   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

Avi Keswani, director LISAA School of Design, Bengaluru, agrees and adds: “There are a lot of dying arts and being educators there is only so much we can do. We follow a glocal curriculum, which is global with a local outreach and local adaptation. Padmini and I were on the same page. She told me newer motifscan only come from students, teachers and artisans who have had a different exposure.”

The students not only clearly enjoyed the workshop, but also quickly understood and learnt the essence of traditional hand craft. Julianne, a French student, says: “I liked that the colours are sustainable. And I loved to work with block prints. I like psychedelic designs. I used Indian designs in this workshop since I am in India. I am inspired by the music I listen to.”

Rachel Rebecca Thomas, a student at LISAA, Bangalore, says: “I enjoyed the pigment printing workshop because I personally like working with colours. I like the feeling of being in touch with my roots because as we are progressing in a technological, modern world, we are slowly losing touch with it.” She says her inspiration for design comes from “My grandmother’s saris. Both my grandmothers have a wide variety of saris that are traditionally printed.”

Elizabeth John, co-ordinator and faculty of the fashion department at LISAA, says the students learnt three different dyeing and printing techniques over three days. “On the first day, they learnt the resist dyeing technique, on the second day, a pattern printing technique commonly known as Shibori and how to do discharge printing, and on the third day, they learnt block printing.”

The students also went to Channapatna, Karnataka, well-known for their traditional wooden toys. Avi says: “The goal was to understand a local art form.

Avi says, “I want to promote Indian art forms. Germans, for example, are known to use the highest number of wooden toys. They have kept these toys contemporary. We want the students take back the traditional know-how of wooden toys. We want Indian art forms to go abroad, our goal as educators is create awareness on how Indian art works.”

Padmini says her artisans enjoyed the workshop too.

“They enjoyed this experience because they saw how the same block print is interpreted in a different way.”

As morning gives way to noon, one doesn’t know how time flies. This is because at Tharangini’s beautiful environs makes you forget the hustle-bustle of the city. There is a lot to discover in the studio, Padmini points us to one patch. “We have started a natural dye medicinal plant garden. The other discussion we had was the overlap of medicinal plants with natural dye, because it is all connected at the core. If we don’t spread awareness on these traditions, they will get lost with every generation.”

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:27:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/a-profusion/article30971353.ece

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