Designer Gaurang Shah is weaving Raja Ravi Varma's iconic works on saris for an exhibition in October
Seven years ago, Hyderabad-based designer Gaurang Shah recreated the paintings of Laxman Aelay on saris using Jamdani. “One of the customers was Lavina Baldota, from Baldota (Abheraj) Foundation," he recalls. “She liked my work and suggested we collaborate in the future." In 2017, Baldota introduced Shah to the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation with the aim of recreating Varma’s works on Khadi saris as a dual homage to the artist, and M.K. Gandhi who revolutionized the use of Khadi. Gandhi’s birth anniversary coincides with Varma’s death anniversary—a connection that led the collaborators to announce Khadi, A Canvas, a forthcoming exhibition on 2 October.
A year-long project, Khadi, A Canvas involves a meticulous replication of Varma’s most well-known works of art woven on to the pallu of the sari, using the Srikakulam Jamdani technique. Shah’s team has created 600 shades of natural dye to recreate the same colours as on the portraits, and dyed over 200kg of yarn. The Srikakulam Jamdani technique makes it possible to create the entire pattern without repetitions—unlike other weaving techniques like Banarasi, Paithani or even the Bengal Jamdani, the Srikakulam technique involves placing 6m of drawing paper under the fabric which the weaver references to create the design. “Every inch can be a different design," says Shah, adding that a number of artisans engaged in the project are rural women who left farming and manual labour to join Shah’s weaving team and trained over the last couple of years.....Read more
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