Sunday, December 15, 2013

Artisans and Cities

India has a rich artisanal heritage. We are, perhaps, in terms of range and diversity, the worlds richest nation, when it comes to this heritage. Yet, we seem to be hell bent on squandering it. I had this discussion with a friend who has done considerable research in this sector and I hope to be able to link to his writings soon enough - and while he was talking to me about his perspective -I realized that atleast in one area, this is completely ignored.

And that is in schools and in cities.

No school worth its salt teaches any Indian handicraft - whether it is Dyeing, Bamboo crafts, Wooden toys, Wooden painting. Think of Bangalore. Around Bangalore there is rich heritage of silk weaving, wooden toys and perhaps even sculptures just to name three that come to my untrained mind. But no school exists in Bangalore that will teach people here. Neither do regular schools promote any such thing as part of their curriculum or extra curricular activities.

Sure, there is no demand will be the answer, but where is the marketing? Where are the places which create that demand?

And I do know that Tanjore paintings nowadays are created by people in cities - there are trainers who help one create their own Tanjore painting - this is one art that is fairly easily available - but the same cannot be said of the many other arts.

On the one hand there are artisans who cannot expect to get a livelihood out of creating artists (goes one school of thought) - but are we creating avenues for them for this tradition to continue? And on the other hand, there are people with secured lifestyles who are willing to explore an artisanal tradition. Do you see the opportunity? (Yes, at one level one can snigger, but at another level the artist has incentive to continue in his trade and make a livelihood out of it, why not?)

This is an opportunity waiting to be tapped. How, is what I am thinking...

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