India Now - page 53

N A T I O N A L C R A F T S M U S E U M
AR T S AND CU LT UR E
51
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FEBRUARY-MARCH 2015
tions, inviting the visitor to explore. However,
the rural and peaceful ambience lulls you into a
slow walk as you want to linger and savour each
minute—here time stands virtually still and there
are none of the urgencies of the modern world.
About a decade back when Dr Ruchira Ghose,
Chairperson, Crafts Museum, took up the charge
of the museum though, it was sliding into ruin.
The economist from the University of Cam-
bridge, UK, decided to put things back on track,
going about it in a planned and phased man-
ner—first addressing the needs of the visitors,
then the needs of the crafts people, and finally
the needs of the staff. Up came Lota and Café
Lota, the former a shop where visitors could buy
authentic crafts fashioned by renowned artisans
and the latter, an open air eatery that sells authen-
tic Indian food—cooked from unusual recipes
that have been handed down over generations.
The museum has established a tradition of
inviting 50 crafts people from across the country
every month to study the archives, learn, make,
showcase and sell their products. This can be
individual or theme based or aligned to an
exhibition. Earlier these artisans were provided
cramped facilities. Their shared accommodation
has now changed to single occupancy, sparkling
bathrooms and also a kitchen. Couples are
being provided separate accommodation as well.
Pointing out to the advocacy role that the Crafts
Museum plays, Ghose says, “This is another way
in which we differ from other museums. We
are speaking on behalf of the craftspeople. For
instance, the terms and conditions to take part
in the crafts demonstration programme have
been completely transformed with our interven-
tion. The craftspeople used to get
`
80 per day.
We made a representation to the Ministry on
their behalf and got it hiked to
`
300 a day.”
The low roofed buildings were designed by
renowned architect Charles Correa and build in
two phases—late 1970s and late 1980s. Remi-
niscent of rural houses with open courtyards,
front verandahs, tiled roofs, arches and long
running front covered corridors with archways,
they take one back to the time when cement and
steel had not made their appearance in housing
construction. The facsimile of a real Indian vil-
lage in scale and proportion, the Crafts Museum
shows how craftspeople who use their hands to
fashion objects daily, live and work. The village
complex, incorporated into the Crafts Museum
when it moved to its present site, was built in
1972 for the Asia Trade Fair. It is spread over an
area of five acres and was designed by sculptor
Shankho Chaudhuri and architect Ram Sharma,
Artlore:
The core
collection that was built
in the 1960s was to work
as reference material
for craftspeople from all
over India, enabling them
to learn and propagate
their hereditary and
traditional crafts. The
museum today has
an enviable collection
of more than 33,000
objects, covering a range
of genres from sculpture,
stone and wood craft,
papier-mâché, ivory,
metal and textiles.
The museum displays
about 3,000 objects
in the various galleries
and the rest are under
its reserve collection.
Rich Repertoire
Its five galleries—Bhuta
Sculpture Gallery, Tribal
and Folk Art, Ritual Craft,
Courtly Craft and Textile
Gallery—are a rich treasure
trove of India’s craft heritage.
While there may be only
eight to nine prominent
crafts medium wise—
stone, wood, clay, textile,
metal, jewellery, cane and
bamboo, fibre, etc., but
when considered according
to regional techniques and
traditions, there are more
than 100 because there are
so many different ways in
which artists can work with
these different materials.
PHOTOS BY CRAFTS MUSEM
1...,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52 54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,...68
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