India’s folks artists have turned on-line to show artwork kinds resembling Kalamakari, Kavad, Phad or Madhubani work. We chat with artists in addition to platforms MeMeraki, Zwendedesign, Madcap Workshops and Bitclass

Krishna Tashi Palmo explains the importance of sure components in Tibetan ‘Thangka’ portray. She waits patiently as the category catches up together with her, the ‘students’ are a part of a two-day on-line workshop organised by MeMeraki, a culture-tech platform.

Palmo, a Thangka artist and trainer, relies in Seobagh, a village in Himachal Pradesh. Over 4 hours unfold over the 2 days, the category is launched to the historical past and cultural significance of Thangka portray.

Despite the sometimes spotty Internet connection, studying artwork doesn’t get extra comfy than this. You are in your own home, a consultant of the corporate ensures that every thing proceeds easily throughout the workshop. Palmo is one amongst many artists who collaborate with platforms resembling MeMeraki, to conduct artwork courses remotely.

Like Palmo, Kalyan Joshi, an award-winning Phad artist from Bhilwara, Rajasthan, travelled throughout the nation and overseas to take part in exhibitions and conduct workshops. Travelling to showcase folks artwork, which is a type of non secular scroll portray practised over generations, was the supply of Joshi’s livelihood until final 12 months’s lockdown.

Similarly, in Darbhanga, Bihar, Madhubani artist Pratima Bharti travelled for workshops and exhibitions and commissioned work to offer for her household. “This is our trade, with lockdown’s restrictions our livelihoods have been hit,” she says over the cellphone.

Throughout the previous year-and-half of the pandemic, practitioners of conventional artwork kinds resembling Kavad, Phad, Madhubani, Gond, Pichwai, Lippan and others are dealing with a tough time as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on journey, cancelled exhibitions and workshops.

Attempting to assist them are e-learning and hobby-tech platforms that facilitate on-line workshops. “We are somehow managing. In such a situation, online workshops such as those conducted by MeMeraki are helpful,” Bharti says. Joshi additionally teaches Phad just about with Zwendedesign, a Bengaluru-based ‘hobby-tech’ portal.

Before lockdown, Australia-based Yosha Gupta’s model MeMeraki (@me_meraki on Instagram), headquartered in Gurugram, made hand-painted, artisanal vogue equipment resembling luggage, scarves, and clothes. Her work concerned working intently with conventional artisans throughout the nation.

“When the pandemic hit, while our revenues plummeted and we struggled as a business, we saw that all the artists who worked with us were struggling even more as there has been no tourism and no exhibitions. We thought we needed to do something to create newer work and revenue streams for them and later ourselves. That is how we started experimenting with online workshops a year ago,” Yosha describes. Artists like Pattachitra knowledgeable Apindra Swain and Chitrakathi artist Chetan Gangwane have discovered a brand new viewers/college students for his or her work; these artforms would in any other case have been restricted to exhibitions and workshops.

Pre-pandemic Zwende (@zwendedesign) had additionally been working with folks artists to fabricate customised dwelling decor and equipment moreover offline passion workshops in Bengaluru. Zwende, like MeMeraki, works with a community of artisans unfold throughout the nation. For them too it was a query of supporting craftspeople when alternatives dried up. “Our focus has been on empowering artists, helping them reach a wider audience,” says founder, S Sujay.

Of transferring to the e-learning house, he remembers, “Last year, while trying to figure out ways of liquidating inventory, when the pandemic hit us, we thought ‘why only sell? Why not showcase traditional art forms?’”

Yosha, who sees the scenario as a chance to empower and speed up the ‘artisan creator’ economic system, continues, “We call ourselves a ‘culture-tech’ platform, being a designer working with crafts and artisans is a part of that. We think of ourselves as the first ‘culture-tech’ platform to use technology with a mission to digitise heritage art and crafts of India to create sustainable livelihoods for artisans while unlocking human potential globally.”

A Logical Step

While for these two corporations, the transition was a shift from their mannequin of functioning, for others resembling Chennai-based Madcap Workshops it was a query of taking on-line what that they had been doing offline. Madcap Workshops has been conducting offline artwork workshops since 2018. With greater than 500 offline workshops in cities resembling Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi, transferring on-line was the logical step.

“With lockdown, there has been a spike in interest in art. Pre-pandemic the profile of participants was in the 25 to 40 age group, but now there are younger people and the over 55 year-olds. Since they have time at hand, people are exploring art forms which they might not have earlier,” says GK Gokulraj, founder and CEO. The artwork kinds taught in Madcap Workshops has been a mixture of trendy and conventional artwork kinds, largely taught by unbiased artists.

It was trial and error when these platforms launched conventional arts workshops. The courses are designed preserving in thoughts the pursuits of these in search of an introduction to conventional artwork and likewise others who search in-depth classes.

Bitclass, a platform that ‘teaches’ a spread of topics — from artwork, cooking and martial arts to running a blog, inventory buying and selling and cryptocurrency, provides the choice of introductory workshops. “It is essentially a ‘try and buy’, so that they (participants) get a fair sense of what they will learn and if that is what they are looking for. The workshop would introduce them to a subject (or art form), and they can then decide if they want to do it,” feedback Gunjan Kejriwal, one of many founders.

The Pros Of Online

Reena George, an architect in Bengaluru, not too long ago attended a four-day on-line Madhubani workshop performed by Zwendedesign. She had earlier attended offline workshops. Lockdown allowed her to strive new issues, “I never had the opportunity to do a lot of things, because there was always something else to do. I have no connection with folk art, Madhubani looked interesting so I chose it. Not only do you learn something new, but it also broadens your horizon,” she says.

She doesn’t discover a distinction between on-line and offline studying however finds the previous ‘five percent better’ since she will get to attend the courses from the consolation of her dwelling.

Yosha states, “Close to 10,000 people would have attended these classes over the past year from across the world. Some have attended more than 40-50 of our workshops and we have crossed 400 workshops since we launched them last year.”

Art supplies are delivered relying on the benefit of availability, in case of supply restrictions the checklist is supplied upfront. With kinds resembling Tanjore artwork, Kantha, phulkari, and Sujani, ‘art kits’ are put along with assist from the teacher-artists. Course packages embrace entry to recordings/replays, downloadables and interactive classes with artists to clear doubts.

The workshops are reside, they begin with an orientation session the place the artist explains the artwork type earlier than guiding members into the session. The charges begin at ₹99 relying on the artwork type, period of workshops (beginner or grasp class) and materials value. Longer workshops are unfold over 4 days or two weekends, relying on the artwork type.

New Opportunities For Growth

Artisans are additionally prepared to adapt and reinvent. “This is an opportunity to showcase our work differently. Besides taking our art to a wider audience, we have access to an online market and space,” factors out Joshi.

The transition to the web house has not been simple however the artists, many in far-flung components of the nation, have embraced it. They are discovering the potential of this new ‘space’.

“The artists are tech-savvy and have learnt how to use Zoom and teach the workshops. Our team spends time training the artists; we have created training videos for how to set up the camera, lighting and even softer aspects of storytelling and breaking down classes into easier sessions,” says Yosha.

Remuneration is part of the deal, however recognition for the artist and the artwork type is a motivator. Gond artist from Bhopal, Venkat Shyam explains, “It is a good experience. More than that, I see this as an opportunity to take Gond art to more people, explain what it is and its history. Since the audience is bigger, the reach is more.” Shyam hails from a household of Gond artists, he has been one for 40 years. These artists work throughout platforms and infrequently introduce new artists to the facilitators.

While on-line workshops supply new alternatives, for a lot of of those artists, they don’t translate to work like earlier than. Some of the artists resembling Joshi have been in a position to leverage the medium to his benefit, whereas others resembling Pratima are nonetheless testing waters. “Our entire family is involved in this (Madhubani painting). It goes without saying that we have been hit. The workshops are not fixed or regular, unless there is a sale it will be difficult. I think it will be like this till the situation changes,” opines Pratima.


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