KOCHI: One has to go to the YWCA Hall situated opposite of the Parade Ground in Fort Kochi before December 23 to entirely comprehend our country’s catchphrase ‘Unity in Diversity’. Organised by A Hundred Hands, the annual Handmade Collective has brought over 40 artisan groups from across India under a roof. And it is indeed a sight to behold.
The expo has NGO and artisans display items of cultural importance in clothing, home decor, art, fashion and cookware. “Everything at the expo is handmade and zen per cent natural and organic. What makes this place interesting is that there is a direct connection between the artisans and the customers with no middlemen involved. So their labour is rewarded with full credit,” says Mala Dhawan, founder trustee of A Hundred Hands.
Handmade glass crafts, iron and metal ware by Gadia Lohars of Rajasthan, handwoven textiles by Bhujodi weavers of Gujarat, Patwa thread work, Orissa Filigree, hand knotted kilims and dhurries from Mirzapur, items by Chanderi weavers, Toda embroidery, Maheshwari looms, wood homeware, Assamese cane work, Madhubani painting, Mughal miniature paintings from Jaipur, handloom weaves form Himachal Pradesh and traditional Pattachitra feature in the expo. In this includes the works of Pattachitra artist Akshaya Kumar Bariki, who won UNESCO award for his efforts to revive the dying art form.
“Having been in the field for over 20 years, my family has been involved in Pattachitra artform for generations,” says Akshaya.
The expo is the meeting and the fusion of contemporary and traditional. Bengaluru-based Mita Majithia’s Corr Beauty which are home decor items made from corrugated cardboard has turned heads. She is probably the only person in the country to manually create bowls and decor items.
“There a lot of agencies who create them using machines. My efforts are manual and each item takes over two days to complete,” says Mita.
Also, Arati Bedekar’s encaustic art has attracted buyers and appreciation from all directions. Been practising for 13 years now, it takes her only a few minutes to create a masterpiece with coloured wax.
Apart from this, different NGOs have displayed their products which work for the welfare of the marginalised communities in different parts of the country. Aarohana’s bags from recycled waste items were made using traditional Charkha and handloom. “These products are made by the rural women in Dadra and Nagar Haveli,” says a volunteer. Products of The Denim Project, the brainchild of A Hundred Hands’, were also displayed.