INNOVATION: RE-PURPOSE, RE-INVENT, RE-CYCLE
Recycling is a very old idea. And India could well be its origin. In India, nothing is thrown away. It is used again, and again, repurposed, reinvented, until finally the last bit of spirit floats away. The impressive aspects of the system are a deep conviction to sustainability, an awareness and value for everything, and the ability to see things familiar as potentially something else. The world of art offers a special manifestation of value as catalyst for re-invention. Women artisans of Kutch value the creativity and hard work of their embroideries so much that they invest time and effort in prolonging the lives of much loved objects. In this exhibition we show five ways in which textile artists creatively innovate to give their work longevity.
1. Use cloth once again. This is perhaps the best known use of recycling.
In villages of Kutch women make ceremonial patchwork and appliqué quilts for honoured guests from new fabric of the artisan's choice. But everyday household obhects are pieced together from worn odhani (veils) and ghaghara (skirts) of women, and ajrakh and pachedi (wrapped lower garments and shoulder cloths) of men. MM-053 and MM-057 were made by refugees from Sindh using government rationed cloth that they dyed themselves in colours that were available. MM-67 and MM-68, R-052 and R-257, and MSC-14 were fashioned with details from women's garments. MSC-133 gave new life to a man's lower garment.
2. Add new embellishment to an older object
Sometimes pieces are left unfinished, begging for a story to be revealed. Or an old piece slightly damaged or worn is set aside. An enterprising or caring artisan can creatively revive such objects. MM-42 was updated to turn a fragment into a bag. MSC-129 was finished by a budding embroidery artist. R-98 was contemporized by replacing mirrors.
3. Use an old object in a new way
Sometimes old or everyday objects are the inspiration for new objects. Seen with a new or objective eye, they can be re-purposed in a clever or playful way. R-21 and R-23 are kitchen utensils dressed up. R-151, R-264, and R-263 are all remixes of garments. R-15-, and R-266- 270 all convert two very old head coverings into a new fashion. R-265 is a hanging made from a bag.
4. Use new elements in a traditional object
R-278 illustrates a traditional ornament contemporized with new beads.
5. Send it back to nature
In a supreme act of sustainability, Garasia Jat women retire their embroidered churi (MSC-55) by hanging them in a tree in the jungle to go back to nature. The embroidered gor (yoke) is felt to be sacred and cannot be sold.