Weaves that Bind

In the city this week, National Award-winning designer Gaurang Shah’s two-day exhibition, showcases the artistry and legacy of India’s ancient weaving techniques
 National Award-winning designer Gaurang Shah
National Award-winning designer Gaurang Shah

BENGALURU: Vibrant textures, intricately woven with techniques that take years to master and a story that spans generations. This is the promise of the upcoming two-day exhibition titled Interlace: An Anthology of Jamdani and Bind: The Poetry of Tie & Die, curated by National Award-winning designer Gaurang Shah.

“This exhibition portrays the story of Jamdani and Ikat, two ancient weaving techniques,” shares Shah, who has long been committed to reviving and sustaining India’s textile heritage.

“I’ve been working with weavers for nearly 25 years. And these series of exhibitions around the country are an effort to showcase the legacy of these weaving techniques which I have been working on over the years,” he says, adding, “Generally, I do fashion shows to showcase my collections, but with this I thought a museum atmosphere to tell the story of Jamdani and Ikat would be more apt.”

The entire collection comprises about 50 pieces, each having taken between one and a half to five years to create. Interlace, showcasing the story of Jamdani, which is extremely close to Shah’s heart, will feature some limited edition pieces, including Khadi – a canvas (khadi saree with woven pallu of Ravi Varma’s paintings) alongside timeless classics from Dhaka, Kasi, Kota, Srikakulam, Uppada, and Venkatagiri, created directly on the loom.

Sarees with different ancient weaving techniques on showcase
Sarees with different ancient weaving techniques on showcase

“I have often wondered what makes Jamdani such a captivating canvas for many, including myself. I have found a layered answer. Every piece is my homage to the past masters who created Jamdani by infusing tradition with a spirit of experimentation,” reflects Shah. Speaking about the constant evolution of designs in his collections, he says, “The traditional techniques are the same as they have been for many years, but now, we have created new contemporary designs, as well as recreations of antique designs. I have incorporated different kinds of yarn in one saree to give texture and a kind of 3D effect to it.”

Shah emphasises the importance of preserving these age-old techniques, particularly in the digital age. “These ancient weaving techniques are our heritage. No place else in the world has what we have, so we need to preserve it, especially in the age of digital creations and power looms. If you don’t work with weavers, it will be lost,” he insists and points out that while scores of designers graduate every year, there are few who are willing to work with weavers on the ground. “Everyone wants to copy the Western designs, use the cheapest of power loom fabrics, but no one wants to use handloom,” he adds.

The exhibition will also offer an exclusive walkthrough led by Shah himself, where attendees can witness the intricate creation process and post-production journey of the sarees. “We have to keep giving a fresh perspective to these ancient techniques. To reinvent and keep exploring new ways and designs to appeal to the people is the only way,” he adds.

(The exhibition will be showcased on June 12 and 13 at AVE, India Design Collective, Sankey Road)

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The New Indian Express