Bonding Over Crafts - the Hindu

Nowadays, five Israeli artists are weaving magic in their masterpieces. The unique part is that they are incorporation our traditional embroideries and craft techniques in these exquisite pieces. And they are also learning about our ancient designs and pattern making from their Indian counterparts. All this is happening at the ongoing 32nd Annual Dastkari Haat Craft Bazaar at Dilli Haat. On their part, Israelis too are are sharing their secrets and unusual methodologies with craftspersons from Delhi as well as Kashmir, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. In the fortnight long exhibition, the star attraction is a horse driven carriage which looks straight from one of those Cinderella comics. The four legged animal has been given a new lease of life by Nihad Dabeet, an Arab artist, while Mohammad Rafiq from Shahdara has chiselled the eco-friendly transport. Interestingly, Nihad's art has European touch. He attributes this to his study in classic art in Bulgaria. "My studies and inspiration from European scultpture have had an influence on me. When I return to Israel, I would like to create visuals I have encountered in India." For Nihad, this collaborative venture with his Indian colleague has been a learning experience for him and it has been productive for both. The duo are showcasing swordsmen, trees, human figures created with wires in silver, copper and aluminium. "All the wires have been gifted to me by the host and I am using the best of the pleasant atmosphere at Dilli Haat," he says. He is at present making a stylised olive tree as its significance in the life of virtually every citizen of Israel has been emphasised. An excited Rafiq says: "We are learning from Israelis in terms of making these objects with wires." Elaborating on positive features of this variant of tree, Nihad says it is held in high esteem by people irrespective of their religious denominations. "It is revered by the Muslims, Jews and Christians in Israel. It signifies peace and positivity." Describing it as a healthy tree, he says, it supplies oil, olives and wood. To make this tree, he brought raw material from Israel. "I have brought olive leaves and would make the tree and keep it for display alongside the large Banyan tree, which has its own uniqueness in India." A few days ago, he heard the good news from an Indian lady. "She told me that olives help keep cancer at bay. Therefore, it can make one disease-free."Just opposite to his stand, Janine Golbert, designer, is busy working with her designs which are multi layered, complex and are an amalgamation of multiple techniques. The show is helping her to incorporate new techniques and increase her design vocabulary. Describing herself as an eclectic designer, Janine says: "Felting is the oldest form of fabric we know but today there are new techniques. I brought different types of wool and mixed it with silk. Nice thing about this technique is that one can mix silk and gold and make one fabric. I make nice garments that are lighter than ones made from wool. I can also make a 3D object."Jugalbandi of craftsExpressing happiness over her success in creating a sari, she says: "I feel like creating more saris, the pallu is so mesmerising. Who knows people in Israel would develop a fancy for saris and I also have to come back and create more here. I also like the way work is done in creating shawls." Farooq Ahmed, her colleague from Srinagar, is giving her an extra edge. "It is helping us to experiment with new techniques." Explaining the difference, Farooq says: "She has made a jar with machine while we take more time as we make it with hands. But our techniques are similar; we too use a blend of water and soap." Giving a perspective how the artists from the two nations are benefiting, Jaya Jaitly, founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti, says: "Our craftspersons come from traditional backgrounds; their skills, ideas and output also remain constant unless we open them to contemporary ideas. On the other hand, Israelis, who are from different communities, work as individual artists. We would like our craftspersons be recognised as artists. We are infusing our traditional skills with their new contemporary ideas and thinking out-of-the-box. Israeli people are realising that if they incorporate our living traditions in their work then it would give them different dimensions. So this cultural bond is useful to both Indians and Israelis." On the common link between the two, she says: "Israelis work in wires, textiles and papier mache, which are our strength. But they do them in different ways."Meanwhile, Sassona Schits, a computer engineer, is making a bed sheet emblazoned with a fantasy house. She says cooperation with Reshma has given a new dimension to her craftsmanship. "This is not a profession for me. Every work takes months and years." On Sunday, they will be showcasing their new art pieces, a mix of zardozi and Western designs, felting and wiring. In all of these, half have been done by participants from the guest country and commensurate number from the host nation. Summing up, Nihad says Indian people are a creative and passionate about art as they share a unique relationship with animal and birds. "They feed camels, monkeys and dogs. The other day, my taxi driver stopped the vehicle and purchased food for birds." Perhaps, he would highlight this rare bond in one of his pieces for the last day.

Bonding Over Crafts - the Hindu 1

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