The Bangalore Utsava, conducted from October 30 to November 11 - just in time for Diwali - brought works of art from different parts of the country to one place. With over 60 stalls, it was an ideal spot for art lovers as well as shopaholics.
Sharada Rajendran from Tamil Nadu displayed a huge and breathtaking collection of antiques from the old houses of Chettinad, a region in her state. She said every antique piece collected by her was her favourite. But the most distinct ones were the 70-year-old Remington typewriter and 90-year-old enamel cookware which were made in England, Sweden, and Czechoslovakia. Culturally, its significance lies in the fact that it was customary in those days to import such goods and present them to the newly wedded couple in the Chettiar family.
Sharada Rajendran with her collection of antiques
Mohini from Howrah, West Bengal, brought her handmade Crosia-design jackets to the exhibition. The Crosia jackets were made of cotton, wool, and chiffon and were priced between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 3,000. She was especially proud of a Crosia jacket that she had sourced from South Korea, displayed prominently in her stall.
An artist hailing from Madhubani village in Bihar, Ashok Kumar Das, who had his work arranged in neat stacks, was distinct from the rest. What stood out about this stall were the paintings that were created without using a brush or paint of any kind. The paintings were created using the traditional nib-pen and the application of flower and vegetable colours with careful strokes using matchsticks instead of a brush. Madhubani paintings are also known as Mithila Lok Chitra, a mural art form from Bihar. The artist, a native of Madhubani himself, explained how this traditional profession has been passed on from one generation to the next ever since it first originated in the era of Lord Ram. The people of Madhubani celebrated the return of Lord Ram from exile by lighting lamps and painting on their house walls. He said “these days paintings are done on handmade paper, cloth and canvas. A single painting can take up to one and a half days to 12 days to complete. Vegetables and flowers undergo different processes of boiling and soaking to produce different colours. Once the colour is produced it is mixed with gum water, which is essential for its pigmentation.”
The artist with his Madhubani collection.
Saravana brought his collection of Thanjavur paintings, which were over a century old, and collected from different temples in Thanjavur. A traditional form of painting, it incorporates the use of real gold leaf. The starting price of these pieces was Rs 40,000 and up.
The next stall took us to the world of Chikankari artwork. The owner of the stall, Mohammad Hasan Ansari from Lucknow, gave us a brief tour. He explained how a Chikankari-designed garment is produced. First, the design is printed on a cloth, then by tightening a part of a cloth with a frame the artisans work on it with a thread and a needle. The entire product is handmade. The artisans who work part-time take a month, while those working full-time take up to seven to eight days to produce a Chikankari-designed product.
Mohd. Hasan Ansari displaying his Chikankari work.
The Bengaluru Utsava Shopping Exhibition allows these artists to showcase their talents. Unfortunately, the exhibition saw very few visitors. Every stall owner complained about weak footfall and were operating on losses owing to the pandemic. However, they will set up shop once again next year with hopes of better times.