Grant Period: Two months
Smitha Cariappa is a visual and performance artist based in Bangalore. She has participated in a number of national and international shows. Her practice has included installations, working with the body in performance art, multimedia and video art. Some of her past work has included working with weaves, yarn and use of fabric. Smitha now wishes to take this idea forward through an engagement with the weaving community in Yelahanka.
Inspired by the poem The Weavers written by Sarojini Naidu, Smitha seeks to explore the bylanes of Old Yelahanka close to the inscription stone near the street Kotte Raste. Generations ago, communities from Andhra Pradesh came to Bangalore looking for work. Among them was a small group of people who wove with silk, cotton and jute, transforming them from raw fibers to threads, and then to saris with exquisite details. This community settled around the Devanahalli/ Yelahanka region and has lived there since then. The handloom industry that came up there with this community has now moved to the power loom. Homes have been converted into small and dingy factories.
In this context, Smitha has had the opportunity to interact with two members from this weaving community - Rajeshwari, the eldest daughter-in-law in a weaving family and her younger co-sister Rani. Rajeshwari who will also be a chief collaborator in this project is involved in making many art decorations and crafts for the home. She often recycles and upcycles found material decorating them with gold paint and bright pigments. Smitha finds this an interesting idea to explore given that this current concern on consumption and waste of urban society comes quite naturally to Rajeshwari and Rani. They experiment with material, are self-taught and have a natural instinct to use found material. Smitha observes the use of the mundane and the kitschiness of their craft. Rajeshwari and Rani also want to engage in tailoring and experimenting in unconventional designs.
Drawing inspiration from the community and their weaving tradition, Smitha seeks to create an installation tentatively titled Dust to Gold in collaboration with Rajeshwari and Rani. They will create the installation using materials and motifs that are part of the weaving tradition – shuttles, bobbins with brightly coloured yarn, designs on the reverse of the loom, patterns of mythological creatures and kitschy craft designs made by Rajeshwari and Rani. While the primary audience will be members from the local weavers’ community, this live art and interactive piece will also be open to public. The exhibition will be organised in the Yelahanka neighbourhood. The deliverables from this project will be photo documentation of the exhibition.
This project is made possible with support from India Foundation for the Arts, under the Project 560 programme and partnered by Citi India.