WORLD NEWS: India - Woodturning is a craft stuck in time (12/31/2015)
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
DECCAN HERALD: India - Woodturning is a craft stuck in time (12/30/2015)
There is hardly any primitive art form that one will not find in India, but there are art forms which are losing their upholders. Woodturning art is not something machines can achieve; it is something both man and machine have to carve together.
It is done on a lathe, with stationary tools which cuts and shapes the wood which is moving on a horizontal pole.
Sailapu Chinyachari, an artisan from Andhra Pradesh (AP) has been practising this form since childhood. He says, “Toys are the best option to keep working on with newer designs. Jewellery, deity sculptures and home decor items have found many artisans but wooden toys are sellable at all times.”
The 36-year-old has been working on design projects with many clients and is now going to open his own store in his village, Etikoppaka in AP. “I remember starting work with kumkum boxes for sindoor as a child and now we also make mobile and iPod stands,” he tells Metrolife.
He explains that the use of the artefacts has not changed but the designs have. “Some National Institute of Design students come to our village for learning the craft and in turn also show us many of their designs through computer graphics. I learn from these new designs, I get inspired and make more ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ style work,” he says.
Etikopakka has the largest number of woodturning artisans in the country and hence is a hub for many who enjoy learning this obscure art form.
Similarly, the visual and performance artist Princess Pea (an anonymous artist famous by this name) is to launch a series of sculptures made in wood. Each piece is conceptualised and made with great attention to detail by award winning craftsmen in India. The toys will be exhibited for the first time at the design store, India Art Fair (January 28-31, 2016).
Her toy, a girl with a ‘big head’ is a figural representation of Princess Pea’s body type who, when pushed from underneath, collapses down, bouncing back when released to stand upright once more – embodying the resilience of an Indian girl child. The edition is called, ‘Fall and Rise’.
The artist says, “That is the significance of the ‘pea’. It is the humanising factor, the empathy of the artist, she feels the slightest discomfort of the ‘other’ and you are expanding on the myth to say ‘I feel the ‘pea’ under your mattress. I feel the ‘pain’ of the ‘other’.”
In a further continuation of Princess Pea’s role as a figurehead to inspire and empower, the creation of the toys serve to revive and sustain the dying Indian craft of woodturning, made using local resources in the village.
“Traditionally the craft of making wooden objects is said to have been practiced since 300 BC. In Etikoppaka more than 200 artisan families would be engaged in toy-making but in the post-Independence period lack of demand in the local markets and lower prices have critically threatened the sustainability of this industry. The tools are simple, yet through skilful craftsmanship passed down through generations, objects of beauty are made,” says Pea.
She reiterates that we all are aware of mass produced goods, and woodturning is something stuck in time, we need serious measures to reform or revive these basic crafts. “The magical process of making a simple wood piece into a well crafted sculpture is subliminal. One can feel the energy and love in its making,” she adds.
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