Sanjay Chitara, 32, was 10 when he began learning the art of painting cloth as an altar for a goddess (called mata ni pachedi), a tradition that goes backs more than 300 years in Gujarat.
He would sit with his father under a creaking fan, learning to paint on cloth with jaggery, iron rust and alum. Now, when the national award-winning artist teaches his six-year-old son the basics of the craft in their home-cum-workshop on the outskirts of Ahme-dabad, he feels the art is in safe hands.
From October 19 to 21, at the annual exhibition organised by non-profit group Paramparik Karigar (Traditional Handicrafts), Chitara and 60 other craftsmen from across India will display their work.
Expect black pottery, cane and bamboo artifacts from Delhi, leather puppets and lampshades from Andhra Pradesh, papier-mâché boxes and dolls from Bihar and more.
This year, the organisation is also conducting workshops where visitors can get crash courses from the artists themselves, in everything from leather-puppet making to miniature painting, palm-leaf etching and Gond tribal art.
“We are giving visitors a chance to not just buy the art but also understand it,” says Anu Hingorani, secretary of Paramparik Karigar.
The annual Paramparik Karigar event, launched in 1996 with 10 artists and the aim of giving rural Indian art a platform in the city, is now one of Mumbai’s most anticipated exhibitions.
“Most of these artists come from families that have been doing the same thing for over 100 years, so every year, we conduct sessions where artists are encouraged to innovate and explore current trends,” says Hingorani. “For instance, stoles are in fashion, so we encourage textile artists to make stoles instead of full-length saris.”
The workshops cost Rs 500 per session.