The evolution of craft, in every civilization, is owed to specific regional sensibilities of the artisans: their surroundings and the needs of their households as well their community. Creativity was intrinsic to the act of making. One of the reasons that artisans in India moved away from innovation and were just involved in making was that the traditional methods of apprenticeship in arts and crafts which facilitated and fostered innovation and creativity, were lost during the colonial period. The Swadeshi movement for Independence in early 20th century was rooted in handmade crafts but it lost its in the significance 1960’s.
My journey with crafts over the last 25 years has been about training and taking it to next level of excellence through innovation. The question that always lingered with me is: does craft need revival or economic viability for artisans? Dignity that comes with excellence of craft practice needs to be supported and encouraged with befitting wages and work culture.
Design has the potential to give dignified sustenance to artisans. India has lakhs of artisans in various crafts and many more are joining each year, but does the market ensure a sunrise for them in the future or is it a sunset industry as declared by the planning commission? Design and craft cannot live in isolation and one cannot use centuries old design in craft, it needs co-working of people from both streams.
The sustenance of artisans is important for any craft to thrive and this can happen through training, opportunities and giving them a voice to express.