As you stroll through the picturesque National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) campus at HSR Layout, with nearly two dozen murals on several walls, what grabs your attention is the massive one of founder, Pupul Jayakar. The mural is developed by graphic artist George Mathen (Appupen). “There are wall artworks all across the campus mirroring a myriad ideas on fashion and design created by small groups of students. The latest mural on Pupul Jayakar encapsulates the ideology of NIFT,” says Susan Thomas, Director, NIFT, Bengaluru.
Speaking about the changes on campus, Susan elaborates that after sporting the same look for about two decades, the board of governors had given a clear mandate that the institute needed to up its branding and design quotient on campus. “Amongst various renovations like structural changes, landscaping and vertical gardening, we zeroed in on the front façade, with Pupul Jayakar as the subject,” she says.
Susan thought it would be a glowing tribute to Jayakar’s vision of starting an institute for fashion technology in India in the 1980s, which was ununcoventional at the time. “NIFT falls under the Ministry of Textiles and not the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which just goes to show how a practice-based, holistic education scheme in terms of design, technology, fashion and management, is viewed. The mural, one of the first of its kind in Bengaluru, tells a story that needs to be told so this generation knows who they are indebted to,” says Susan.
Engaging Appupen for creative work was the best decision of all, says Susan. “He was here for a guest lecture in November and we proposed the idea of a mural to him.”
The layering and detailing that he gives to his work is unmatched. The narrator who prefers to let his graphic representation do all the talking, doesn’t allow for an inch of his artwork to remain silent,” she says.
Susan wanted to see what he would come up with since this assignment was different from his other work. It was to be about engaging with the institutional space of the government, with Jayakar at the centre and blending the entire repertoire with the weaving heritage of our country. “Handloom is the second largest employer after agriculture in this country. Our brief to Appupen and his art associate Noel Abraham, was to have the language and ideologies of NIFT represented with craft clusters, fashion, design technology, and above all, the Indian weaving traditions that Jayakar so believed in.”
The massive 45 feet x 40 feet mural is a rainbow of colours, tones and shades that took about a dozen students two weeks to complete.
“Appupen and Abraham guided the students for a couple of days after which the students took over and completed it. This team effort will remain an inspiration to students as NIFT is the vision of one woman who shaped this institution,” says Susan.
The purpose of the mural was to integrate the design language of various craft and looms of India and place Pupul at the centre of it
Director, NIFT, Bengaluru