Cast in metal

No art and craft fair is complete without dhokra, a traditional art form of Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. The stories and their depiction in these metal artefacts in bronze and copper-based alloys made from lost wax casting technique easily lure those in love with things that are handcrafted.

Cast in metal

At the recently held Dhokra Art Camp in the Rangoli Metro Art Centre, you could get a glimpse of the long labour-intensive process that goes into making dhokra works. Artisan brother duo Sushil Netaab and Madan Netaab had come all the way from Kondagaon in Chattisgarh to participate in the event which also included an exhibition of dhokra artefacts.

The exhibition was organised by ArtLabs, an outfit for supporting art, that was founded by Sandhya Sirsi in 2010. Since then, she has been organising the Brass Tacks Dhokra Art Camps every year. Sandhya who is an artist herself, met Dhokra artists at a camp in Karkada in 2010. "I was intrigued by how this 5000 year-art form is still being practised and nurtured by these people. I was very curious to know it deeply. I wondered how they arrive at these shapes at that time," says Sandhya, who is also exhibiting a few of her wall sculptures done in collaboration with the artisans, along with her pantings.

Cast in metal

During post harvest time, artists call Sandhya expressing their desire to participate in the camp. "They come, stay and cook for an entire month in my studio but till now we were doing it in Electronic City. This is the first time we are doing it in the heart of the city," explains Sandhya. Sushil and Madan are third generation artists in their family. Gearing up for their month long haul in Bengaluru, Madan says, they have experimented with colours for the first time. The visitors will see the traditional peacock shaped boat painted at its tail. Not just colours, they are also innovating with designs like a bottle holder. "People are demanding new designs. Design students come to our village now and ask for new patterns,” explains Sushil. Another change is the inclusion of women in the process. Unlike earlier, women of the family are part of the dhokra making process.

Cast in metal

Barring a few innovations, the repertoire still draws from the old times like their local deities - Jhitku-Mitki, the annual Goddess Fair, Naya Khani (harvest festival). "Jhitku-Mitki were lovers but their families didn't agree to their relationship so Jhitku was killed by Mitki's brothers. We worship them. The figures here draw from our festivals, processions during 'maata mela', dancing and singing after the harvest," reveals Sushil. At the event Sandhya along with her daughter Niharika, an upcoming designer also hinted at the way forward for dhokra through the inclusion of technology. Niharika is demonstrating the creation of 3D printed designs and how it can benefit dhokra with better designs and finish.

Cast in metal

(The Dhokra art camp will continue at ArtLabs Exp Studio, Electronic City, till September 15)

The Dancing Girl

The world famous sculpture of "The dancing girl" from Mohenjo-Daro is made using the lost wax technique.

Dhokra art is practised by the tribals of Bastar in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal. It is a labour-intensive and time consuming process.

The figurines are handcrafted in copper and bronze-based alloys using the lost wax technique.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 7:55:35 PM |

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