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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Kalakshetra Foundation and Dastkari Haat

                                                                  Loom at Chennai's Kalakshetra foundation

Despite the heavy rain and flooding in Chennai Praveen managed to take us to visit the Kalakshetra Foundation in east Chennai-apparently Indian cars are semi-submersible! In extensive grounds the foundation is a large Government funded organisation dedicated to prserving traditional craft, dance and art studies. Courses are run here in a number of areas, it acts as a local venue, has a theatre, guest house and even has a primary school inside it's walls.
We came to look around the textile unit, where traditional saree weaving, natural dyeing and block printing take place. It was fairly quite during our visit due to the flooding but were were able to see several employees at work both dyeing and printing in the traditional methods. Products made here are sold to raise funds, and courses run regularly.
Looms at Kalakshetra's weaving studio.

An important technique for Kalakshetra is Kalamkari, a form of traditional fabric painting and printing using all natural dyes and pigments to obtian beautiful, earthy colours. Milk is used during the process and gives the finished pieces and interesting smell! Traditionally the paintings were used tell stories of Hindu mythology and many still have a religious subject matter.

Example of Kalamkari fabric painting from Crafts India

Dastkari Haat @ Kalashetra foundation,

Rajastani puppets Dastkar Baazar held at Kalakshetra

Whilst at Kalakshetra we visited Dastkari Haat, a crafts fair organised by Dastkar with exhibitors and producers from accross India. There were many of the same producers as we had seen at the similar event in Delhi, including SKKK who we visited in Sandur. It was another lovely day out, with music and dancing, although visitor numbers were low due to the flooding. It was again a noticeably wealthy Indian clientele, and provided us with a great opportunity to get Christmas presents!

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