At Dhi Artspace Hyderabad, an intersection of arts and crafts, from crochet to kalamkari

Artworks using bamboo, crochet, beads, hand-painted kalamkari and crochet welcome guests to Dhi Artspace, Hyderabad. The exhibit, titled Crafting the Crossroad, is an attempt to use craftsmanship as a high-quality work of art. In the method, the 5 collaborating artists attempt to address issues of identification in addition to exposing the historical past and cultural context of the craft. Curated by Somedutta Mallik, the exhibition focuses on paintings by artists Chathuri Nissansala, Shruti Mahajan, Mousumi Karmakar, Rajarshi Sengupta and Susanna Bauer.

Remembering the Easter attacks

Chathuri Nissansala, a multidisciplinary artist from Sri Lanka, can pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the suicide bombings that rocked Colombo at Easter 2019. only the memory of them.’ She uses damaged and dismantled idols accumulated on bombing websites and harnesses the beadwork and costume-making techniques of southern Sri Lanka to create works of art that can sparking a discussion about the unrest and violence in her country. Her search led her to the new memorials inside the church buildings that had been attacked, where she saw recovered fabrics displayed in remembrance of the deceased The costumes she uses to decorate the idols and located gadgets are a local mortuary craft in the Matara coastal region of Sri Lanka.Chathuri apprenticed with Somapala Pothupitiya, who is believed to be one of the last artisans of the Navandanne group who practices the technique. Eager to understand the custom of ritual costume-making, Chathuri also sought to create a new discourse by using it to invoke a path of healing and hope.

Mousumi Karmakar is inspired by the bamboo and palm fiber fishing cages of West Bengal
| Photo credit: special arrangement

Mousumi Karmakar’s paintings are inspired by the group of fishermen in West Bengal. The Kolkata-based artist draws public attention to bamboo and palm fiber cages, used by one of the major fishing communities. The grid-patterned cage, when lowered into the water, traps the fish. Mousumi uses bamboo and palm fibers to construct architectural models in addition to small craft portraits. Growing up watching her father, a chippie, create other gadgets, she was once susceptible to discovering ways to make constructs and her suite of artwork helped her create sketchy sculptural bureaucracy.

Not just a leaf

Susanna Bauer’s refined crochet on a sheet
| Photo credit: special arrangement

Susanna Bauer uses herb leaves and crochet to draw our attention to the wonders and complexities of our environment and the relationships we forge with the industry. An in-depth look at the solitary leaf that is framed and the subtle lace crochet paintings appear. The artist who comes from Germany and now works in the UK, in her observation finds that crocheting handmade lace on leaves is an arduous method, given the fragility of the subject of the skin – the leaf . She uses high quality hooks, needles and yarn to create designs on the leaves. She also works with crochet to sign and reshape leaves and shape branch-like constructions.

The Kalamkari work of Rajarshi Sengupta

Rajarshi Sengupta’s Kalamkari artwork
| Photo credit: special arrangement

The hand-painted kalamkari becomes the support in which Rajarshi Sengupta shows on the first settlements around the water our bodies, the existence of craft communities and trade routes. A Kalamkari artwork in herbal tinctures displayed on a desk has more than one photograph that can be viewed from other angles. Some of the images in his paintings replicate the way Kalamkari artisans wash and dye the material, landscapes and different main points. During his visits to the Kalamkari handicraft clusters in Machilipatnam, he discovered photographs referring to the cultures of the 17th and 18th centuries and Southeast Asia, get to know the craftsmen through trade routes. Rajarshi’s paintings also recognize the utilitarian side of kalamkari in the form of cushion covers and luggage. Some of his works from the collection have been on display at the Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, for 12 months.

A chain and a frame

Shruti Mahajan's work inspired by the weaving process

Shruti Mahajan’s paintings impressed by weaving method
| Photo credit: special arrangement

Shruti Mahajan is inspired by the time she spent in Maheshwar, watching professional weavers process the warp and weft for a hand-woven material. She uses weave tracking but transforms a work of material into murals by incorporating smocking tactics and delicately playing up a wavy patterned border that resembles lace paintings. Elsewhere, she draws on buttery paper with a ballpoint pen to create soft, colorful patterns on the ground, representing evening and day, turning it into a work that can be a starter for dialogue about the tactic involved and the craft history.

( Crafting the Crossroad is on view at Dhi ArtSpace, Hyderabad, until August 21)