Weaving a success story, by hand
‘Hidden Lily’, a projection mapping performance narrative, was recently held at Museum of Goa (MOG). A collaborative project by Social Weavers and G Craig Hobbs, the performance narrated their exploration and discoveries while working with the weaver community in Gajendragad, Karnataka. Café finds out more
It was unlike anything that had been done at Museum of Goa (MOG) before. The exterior of the building, inclusive of the stairs and the myriad architectural dimensions of the space, was converted into a multi-dimensional screen where the touching story of the weaver-community in Gajendragad, Karnataka was narrated. A performance artiste further pushed the message with her solo act, interacting with those present. ‘Hidden Lily’ was an initiative to present this project of 3rd Space Lab Collective, of working with the weavers and the handloom workers of Ganjendragad, a small village in North Karnataka. Founded in 2012, 3rd Space Lab Collective consists of artists from Bangalore, India and the San Francisco Bay Area, aimed at establishing new social pathways and global commons through collaborative experiences that engage shared arts and cultural practices. With the motive of creating awareness and to revive the usage of natural dyes, 3rd Space Lab recently conducted a 10-day workshop in Gajendragad, Karanataka. Together with the master weavers and dyers they explored and produced 50 colours and shades from natural plants and minerals that were available locally. Through projection mapping, ‘Hidden Lily’ was a performance-based narration of their exploration and discoveries, assisted by G Craig Hobbs, whose expertise in video mapping projection made the storytelling experience an effective one. The goal of the Social Weavers project is to break the divide between artists and craft artisans and in the process, create a system to learn from each other’s strengths and knowledge, creating a pathway for the development of a new community-centred sustainable design practice that supports individual expression, crafting histories and future livelihood. Lalitha Shankar, one of the members of the 3rd Space Lab collective, says, “When we looked at the various migrant communities in Bangalore, we were touched by the story of the weaving community’s struggle with the dying craft of cotton handloom sarees. When we started to explore in Bangalore and see what is surviving, to our shock, it was completely taken over by powerlooms. Whatever handloom was being done was in silk, not in cotton. Earlier, if you had to go down the Avenue Road in old Bangalore, you could hear the characteristic sound of handloom work; now you hear only the powerlooms.” Lalitha, joined by other members of the collective - Robin Lasser and Shamala Bilava, then started doing more research on the topic and ended up in Gajendragad, a small village in the Gadag district in North Karnataka. The place is home to a few weavers who are struggling but keeping this age-old craft alive. In a bid to revive this age-old craft, over the last few months, the team has begun a collaborative process with two handloom weaving societies. 3rd Space Lab Collective artists, along with collaborator artist Shatrughan Thakur, will develop a series of woven saree fabrics that interpret ideas of geology, landscape and sky of both, Karnataka, India and California, USA. Over the next year and a half, the team will collaborate with these handloom weavers to collectively create six different designs for 300 handwoven sarees to be made with organic cotton yarn, and dyed with natural dyes. When the sarees are complete, the collective design process with the weavers will strive to give them ownership on the designs created together, so that they are not only beholden to client requests, but are able to develop their own new designs that can lead to the creation of their own micro businesses, with support from collaborating partner organisations that will become the micro economy partners of the team in this work.
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