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ART & CRAFT

Art on carpet

Life&More October 16, 2018
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Saurabh Tankha

To mark the breast cancer awareness month and raise awareness about the rising number of cases of breast cancer worldwide as well as garner funds to support treatment expenses of patients who need it the most, an exhibition with a limited edition collection of handwoven and tufted carpets in wool and silk will open on October 21 in Mumbai and continue at Gallery Art & Soul from October 22-November 1. Art & Soul Cancer Foundation’s collaboration with PASSAGES for an exclusive exhibition titled cARTpet, curated by Brinda Miller, will have reproductions from key artworks of 22 of India’s leading artists.

The cARTpet project is a great opportunity for collectors to enjoy art in an unusual form. For the young, aspirational collector, it is a rare chance to collect a unique piece of work and support an important cause. Participating artists include Anjolie Ela Menon, Baiju Parthan, SH Raza, Brinda Miller, Jayasri Burman, Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, Badri Narayan, Manu Parekh, Paresh Maity, Ram Kumar, Rekha Rodwittiya, Rini Dhumal, Neeraj Goswami, Sudhir Patwardhan, Satish Gujral, Seema Kohli, Senaka Senanayake, Sujata Bajaj, Suryaprakash, Shuvaprasanna and Thota Vaikuntam.

We spoke with Dr Tarana Khubchandani, founder-director, PASSAGES and Art & Soul, about the concept behind the show:When did the idea of organising cARTpet first germinate?
In 2011, we were invited by Mrs Maneka Gandhi to hold an exhibition of carpets in Mumbai. She was sure it would be a huge success and she was absolutely right! However, we were not involved in the production of the carpets and had only a few to sell. Over the last seven years, we have had umpteen requests from satisfied clients. We realised that art can be enjoyed and appreciated in any format as long as it accurately represents the artist’s imagery and his thought process behind the work. Further, for the young aspirational collector, this luxury product fulfills their desire for a celebrated artists work in an unusual format that can be enjoyed as a rug or a wall hanging.

I have since nurtured the concept to be done again with the artists of our choice and with the highest attention to detail and quality. I approached artist Brinda Miller who is painstaking in her quest to be perfect and her inputs with design and an innate sense of colour selection which was critical to the long production process. We put in a lot of effort which included months and months of sampling and going back and forth with three different production houses we worked with, rejecting designs, changing images and even cancelling some in the process. But we are delighted with the final products and have learnt a lot through this two-year process.

Tell us something more about Art & Soul Cancer Foundation.
The beneficiary of the funds we raise through The cARTpet Project will benefit PASSAGES, an NGO for Guidance, Education & Support. PASSAGES’ Cancer Health Programme came into being in July 2000 as a result of my personal brush with the disease and the realisation that there is a dearth of awareness as well as emotional and financial support for so many needy patients in our country. This programme focusses specifically on creating awareness and dispelling myths about breast cancer.

What process is being used to reproduce these works on carpets? How much time has it taken for the entire exercise, from procuring the artworks to having a finished handwoven and tufted carpets?
The first step was the selection of the artworks because Brinda and I knew that we wanted to work with the most celebrated artists. We asked the artists for images and did not take any artworks. We received a very encouraging response from all the artists as they have always supported us in all our fundraising endeavours for breast cancer ever since 2003.We chose three different companies to work on the production, based on the complexity of the images. The process started with studying the painting and understanding the number and tones of colours and types of shapes involved. After which was a process of creating a “visualisation, a graphic representation of the actual rug. This is the closest image you can see of the rug before it is produced. It takes almost 35-40 man hours to create a single visualisation of a carpet of 5×7 ft.In visualisation, colour numbers were allotted to each shade that were used from a pom box. We compared the selected colours to the original artwork. The challenge was that since most of the images were sent to us on email, we had to make allowances for different viewing media. Brinda, with her excellent colour sense, was instrumental in this process. At this point, the vendor in charge of production decided the different textures to make up the final rug. This was a process we left entirely to them since there is a mix of fine New Zealand wool and silk yarn.Now we were ready for the production. This was a lengthy 10-step process, especially when almost all designs involved more than 15-20 colours. The approved visualisation got converted into an actual life-size stencil while simultaneously the yarns (wool & silk) were sent to be dyed in various colours. One of the most crucial steps was to make sure the dyed yarn came out exactly as selected else the rug would turn out looking different than the painting. Having the stencil and yarns ready, we began the tufting process. The tufters tufted each yarn into the warp and weft of the base cloth. The tufting process of a 5×8 ft rug took up to 168 man hours. Once the design was tufted onto the base cloth, the technical process of latex and finishing happened to give the rugs their final look. A team of skilled workers then gave it a smooth and shiny look and the interesting textures! After eight weeks, you got the rug you saw as a visualisation!Conventionally carpets are placed on floors whereas paintings by these celebrated artists adorn walls. How welcoming were these artists with respect to the use of their works as carpets?
Not a single artist raised this issue. Besides every carpet has a provision to hang on the wall.Will the exhibition travel to other cities too?
Right now, we are looking forward to a successful launch in Mumbai where we can achieve our dual objective: to raise funds but more importantly raise awareness on breast cancer. Hence, we planned it for October which is the Breast Cancer Awareness month internationally. In the western part of the world, oncologists, hospitals, NGOs, support groups the media, all collaborate with great enthusiasm during October, in so many ways, to keep the awareness flag flying high. We do hope we can achieve that in India too!

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