For Goa-born Mayuri Chari, art is about celebrating women, and her storytelling always focuses on the real: “real society, real people, real stories.” Her artwork, My Body, My Freedom, for example, made with embroidered thread on fabric, represents her conversations with her own body.
Similarly, Guardians in a Dystopian Garden by multimedia artist Ranbir Kaleka, made in cotton.
Although My Body, My Freedom and Guardians in a Dystopic Garden are contrasting creatives, they both have a common thread: visually compelling and thought-provoking art created on textiles.
From aari and zardozi techniques to satin stitches, phulkari, Kutch embroidery and French knots on handwoven silk, organza, khadi, jute and linen, artists like Chari and Kaleka, whose artworks were exhibited in the newly concluded India
“The interplay between art and textiles not only elevates the realm of hand embroidery to an authentic art but also sheds light on the genius of embroiderers and the schools of embroidery for which India is revered across the world ” says Gayatri Khanna, founder of the Mumbai-based embroidery workshop. , Milaaya, whose recent exhibition, titled Threaded Visions: Contemporary Bordery for a Sustainable Future, was curated by Mumbai-based art curator Arshiya.
“A slowly dying heritage, hand embroidery, when transformed into art, makes these museum pieces accessible to many, ensuring that a craft remains alive in our collective consciousness,” adds Khanna.
As a curator, Lokhandwala carefully selected the most iconic works by contemporary masters and artists, including SH Raza, Ram Kumar, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, KK Hebbar and Ranbir Kaleka, and turned them into hand-embroidered masterpieces, addressing themes such as sustainability and climate change. .
Each work reflects an exploration of environmental concerns, advocating for sustainable practices such as recycling, the use of renewable fuels, water conservation, and the preservation of biodiversity in the animal kingdom.
Similarly, Chari uses hand embroidery on fabric to express illusions related to the female body. She brings compelling conversations sewn on cotton, where she reappropriates the Portuguese legacy of trousseau sewing, adopted by her family in Goa, during colonization and uses it as a vocabulary of feminist dissidence.
The textile artist recently set up a studio space in a village called Anur in Kolhapur in rural Maharashtra to spend time with rural women workers working in sugarcane fields and explore stories from labor camps.
“The women use their saris as privacy walls while building camaraderie with other women from nomadic tribes like Banjaras and Dalits, who live in a multicultural society lacking sanitation and hygiene,” adds Chari, who began her artistic journey as an embroiderer in her post . She mastered from the Central University of Hyderabad in 2017.
Today, Chari questions the personal universe of the body and discovers that sex and nudity are still taboo in India. She has written poems about vaginas and sewn them onto a huge piece of fabric using a portable sewing machine. All of these thoughts are intertwined in textiles, realized in a mural on canvas or in the form of a multimedia documentary.
While Shalini Passi considers “slow fashion and conservation of craftsmanship to be the strongest pillars of sustainability,” the intricate pieces not only highlight the richness of embroidery as an art form but also celebrate the diverse traditions and skills of India.
Similarly, Karishma Swali’s Chanakya School of Crafts in Mumbai has collaborated with French-Cameroonian painter Barthelemy Toguo and French artist Eva Jospin to create large-scale interdisciplinary artisanal works using a variety of embroidery techniques.
From handwoven silk, organza, khadi, jute and linen, the craft interacts with hand-spun threads and plying techniques, along with micro variations of embroidery techniques, including couching, bullion knots and stem stitches.
Toguo has worked on a 5 meter long embroidery that represents a man receiving and offering water with a hundred engraved bottles filled with water from all over the world, in addition to two other embroideries that represent different animals highlighting the use of raw organic threads and fine. Needle techniques. Hand embroidery techniques, such as stem stitch, back stitch, and micro French knots, are used to achieve an ink spread similar to that found in paintings.
“In India, craftsmanship occupies a place of honor and proves to be more unifying in human relationships than even spoken language. Through our artistic collaborations, we recognize the importance of celebrating communities and their material cultures, highlighting the integral role that craftsmanship plays in transmitting our traditional heritage and our collective identities,” says Swali.
Swali’s Chanakya School of Crafts specializes in embroidery and crafts and has already graced international haute couture. His collaboration with French artist Eva Jospin is based on unique drawings depicting landscapes of architectural structures, forests, rocks and waterfalls. Swali worked with artisans from the Chanakya School of Crafts for several months to make this landscape using contemporary versions of traditional hand embroidery techniques. Over 150 variations of different embroidery techniques and over 400 shades of organic silk, linen, cotton and jute threads were used to interpret different aspects of this landscape with great depth and detail to bring it to life.