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Art inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy


Artist showcases Gandhian philosophy through art on Khadi

artNew Delhi: Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of ‘sarvodya’ and ‘swadharma’ has inspired an artist to create art installations comprising Azarakh prints on khadhi cloth needlecraft by women, and displayed it in the background of a multimedia spoken poetry presentation here.

The showcase titled “Salt: The Great March 2013” by artist Shelly Jyoti is being exhibited at the India Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here.

“My present body of work explores the possibilities of establishing alternative societies where Gandhian ideals of ‘swadharma’ or upliftment of all could be established through their sincere implementation,” says Shelly who calls herself a
visual artist, independent curator, art, craft and design person.

Shelly says she began her journey for the art project inspired by Mark Kurlansky’s book “Salt: A World History.”

Exploring salt as symbol of non-violence and investigating theory in practice of tolerance, peace, harmony through the narratives of swadeshi politics has been the objective of her installation.

“I took off to Dandi for a few days to gain more knowledge and the raw materials like khadi, white sails, salt and a hose pipe for the installations have been brought from Dandi in Gujarat,” Shelly says.

The four-week exhibition that began on September 28 and was inaugurated by Karan Singh, Rajya Sabha MP and President Indian Council for Cultural Relations, explores the artist’s concept of connecting the past and present.

“Bringing together the two elements close to Gandhiji’s heart and presenting it in a contemporary fashion to recreate and sponsor an ancient and dying methodology of printing on cloth is a very worthwhile theme,” Singh said.

Shelly’s work draws upon the history of India’s colonial past and Mahatma Gandhi’s 1930 Dandi March, which began the Salt Satyagraha and became an important part of the Indian independence movement.

“Salt features a large khadi fabric site specific installation, two sculptural installations with khadi yarns, chenille pipe cleaners and wires, 25 contemporary artworks on khadi as quilt samplers with traditional Azrak dyeing or printing technique, and multi-media spoken poetry,” the artist says.

Another interesting installation at the exhibit is a work-in-progress titled “Building a Nation” on which the artist is currently engaged in work.

The 9 feet high and 6 feet wide installation is set to be created with lightweight materials, such as chennile pipe cleaners, fabric, plastic, wire and thread.

“I hope to complete ‘Building a nation’ installation during the exhibition period. This also gives people an opportunity to come and see me work,” Shelly says.

As a textile designer, Shelly says she was intrigued by the quality as well as the symbolic value of khadi. As an avid user of handspun clothes she has been working with a lot of crafts and dyeing people like the Azrakh artists from Bhuj since 2009.

“I hope to contribute towards the preservation of the azrakh technique through my artwork and through exhibitions in galleries and museum I have been working with the ninth and tenth generations of these technicians one of them being
Junaid Mohammad Ismail Khettri.”

The artist says that the technique is not very simple. She says, “The printing process itself involves 26 steps involving several layers of treatment of the cloth, designing and printing.”

“The wooden blocks used for my contemporary printed works date back to about 200 years in design history and the dyes used are natural and eco-friendly. The design styles referenced in my work are Kankharak, Rialgad, Gurda Kaleji, Bodyrial, Zimardi, Beedi boota, Asopalav, Nipuri, Champakali, Pancho, Keribel and Mijidbel,” Shelly says.

After the final printing, embroidery work, Kantha stitch on the prints is done on the fabric.

“Embroidery on the cloth is done by women who run their household through needle-work but are not associated with any NGOs. Around 15 to 20 such women entrepreneurs work with me,” the artist says.

Her affinity for the Gandhian philosophy has previously inspired the artist to produce art installations based on Champaran movement using indigo as a theme color in a project titled “Neeldarpan”.


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