8:45 AM : Non-stop coordinating, running around on the NDLS platform, and the Delhi Heat. The train reaches platform no 3 and with that, Padma Ji (Cherial Artist) and her husband Nageshwar Ji arrive Delhi with a desire to help their art grow and learn all possible things they can in the 25-day ‘art programme/workshop/camp’ :)
9:30 AM : Medhavi picks up Radha (Chittara Artist) from the Nizamuddin Railway Station and rushes to the studio (obviously only one of us has the key to the shutter and our Guard Bhaiya, is well . . . lets save this for another day)
10:00 AM : With our cars are just two-red-lights-apart, we were on the phone to each other (Medhavi and Gitanjali), trying to reach the Studio at the same time!
10: 30 AM : The shutter lifts, locks are opened, and the artists enter our Studio!
(needless to say that we are more than just ‘excited’)
Even though a lot needed to be done, things were still in place – life is all about learning (isn’t it?) and we at Happy Hands strongly believe that our experiences are our best teachers :)
12:30 PM: Brunch Time! Delicious poori-aloo, delivered by the Butterflies School of Catering and Food Preparation. Butterflies is a Delhi-based child-rights organization that works with street and working children. The school works to help street kids develop a vocation that can empower and help them
2:00 PM: The artists are extremely eager! We felt that they would be exhausted after traveling for around 30-hours but their curiosity levels took the better of them and just like that, the Studio was declared open!!
The first session conducted by Medhavi covered the objectives of the program, what all are the artisans likely to learn, the challenges they face, and how the modules covered in the next 25-days would help them address some of the challenges. We want the artisan to feel that there is real value in their craft and so as an organization we will intervene mostly in the space of design, packaging, labeling along with exhibition display, costing and pricing, and managing relationships with middle men.
The artisans all shared their views on this residency, what their expectations are, and what they want to do. One of them said that she is here to paint and the other said she struggling to find growth in her art. Radha Ji and Padma Ji both showed their respective art forms and the materials they use. Radha primarily uses natural dyes and colors are made out of burnt rice, ground fruits, and rice powder; while Padma ji uses a lot of tamarind paste, saw dust, and white chalk powder! Everytime either of the two displayed their indigenous materials or talked about their art – the others expressed their interest. There seems to be a definite desire to learn, to grow – which is humbling and rewarding to observe.
The challenges vary, but for a start am glad that they are sharing their thoughts with us. Some of the key learnings from the session were as follows:
“Design+Package+Label – Income Increases!” (working on design, packaging, and labeling may lead to an increase in income)
“Material jaisa ho – price bhi waisa hona chahiye!” (Price your product according to the material you use)
“Every shade of red has a different meaning” (when talking about colors)
“The idea is to try to give more value in the product” (when pricing strategies were discussed)
“Traditional hote huye hum kuch new try karengay” (while maintaing our respective traditions, we will try something new)
“THINK! Think MORE!”
… stay tuned!