Mumbai: Owing to unprecedented public response to watching traditional master craftspersons at work, the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre has decided to extend Reliance Foundation’s SWADESH exhibition. The exhibition is an experience zone offering visitors a unique journey of watching and interacting with skilled expert artisans from famed traditional art forms such as Pichwai, Tanjore, Pattachitra, weaves from Patola, Venkatgiri, Benaras, Paithan and Kashmir and Blue Pottery from Jaipur among others. Craftspersons at work – on traditional looms making carpets and saris, using vegetable inks and needles to create paintings – while interacting with audience, have created a unique and much appreciated experience for visitors to the Centre. This has elevated the pristine appeal of the craft to a performing arts experience.
"India’s artisans are the pride of our country. Their arts and crafts are integral to our culture. It has been an honour for us at the NMACC to offer them a global platform to showcase their skill and talent, honed and passed down over generations.” said Mrs. Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation.
“It gives me the greatest joy to see the attention and appreciation they have received in abundance from our Indian and international guests. I cherished my interactions with them, and it was overwhelming to hear their stories and see their extraordinary passion towards their craft. Swadesh is a celebration of our heritage, and I hope it marks a new beginning of respect, recognition, and sustenance for our artisans.,” She added.
When the artists came home to NMACC
Ever since the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre opened to the world, visitors have been appreciating many aspects about the Centre and its offerings. The SWADESH experience zone recreated the traditional artists’ space with beautifully designed stalls for the Cultural Centre audience to not only watch the skilled artisans at work but also buy their works.
Originally scheduled as a three-day event till April 2nd, this has now been extended due to the overwhelming admiration of the artisans, visible in the extensive footfalls and daily number of orders placed with the artisans, the entire proceeds of which goes to the artisans themselves.
In the extended exhibition, the additions include Palagai Padam - Tanjore Painting from Tamil Nadu, Venkatagiri Weaves from Andhra Pradesh, Patola Weaves from Gujarat, and Tholu Bommalata Leather Shadow Puppetry from Andhra Pradesh.
The extravagant gold foil depictions of deities in Tanjore paintings; the fine fabrics with intricate zari patterning of Venkatagiri Weaves; Patola weaves of Gujarat, created by tying and dying warp and weft threads before weaving them together; the Tholu Bommalata Shadow Puppetry from Andhra Pradesh the Indian bobble-head in a mixture of paper and clay; are part of the extended showcase.
Set with Athangudi eco-friendly tiles and a rustic classic South Indian ‘the wooden touch’ décor, the entire space becomes a living breathing experience in itself. Through the years, Reliance Foundation has given traditional Indian artisans a platform to showcase their talent, and take their work to a wider audience. Endangered art forms get a new lease of life with livelihood opportunities for traditional artists and crafts persons, to ensure their work continues to be viable. The unprecedented success of this effort adds another aspect to the credo of the new Cultural Centre – that of showcasing India’s rich heritage on national and global platforms.
These efforts have helped preserve and protect artforms while providing continued employment opportunities to artisans. SWADESH is yet another step in that direction as part of this long-standing commitment to artisans.