“Ghadai” is a pottery exhibition conceptualized by KHAMIR, to showcase the handicraft of the Kumbhars, potters of Kutch. The exhibition will trace the history of the Kutch potters, as well as present exceptional pottery pieces created especially for the project. The word “Ghadai” refers to the name of the unique and highly skilled technique used by traditional potters to create large objects of pottery.

Final Invite CC [Converted]

Ghadai  is the result of extensive field work and the hope that the potters of Kutch hold for their future. The exhibition displays the traditional products that once were a part of people’s lives in Kutch. The pieces highlight extraordinary skill, the wise use of tools, techniques and limited resources which made each form unique.
The project began with a tracing of the history of pottery in the Kutch region, where the team from KHAMIR travelled through different villages, talking, interacting and filming the artisans in order to be able to compile a comprehensive history of the craft. The final result is an exhibition that showcases the pottery of Kutch, its archaeology and 7000 year-old history and the social relevance of not just the craft but most importantly of the potter – known as the “prajapati”, lord of the people.
Watch the trailer of the exhibition here

The highlight of the exhibition is the exceptional pottery pieces created by artisans from various pottery clusters. These pieces are recreations of traditional pottery objects that were used in the region but have been lost to time. As a result of a largely oral tradition of continuing know-how, and the lack of formalized curation and documentation of traditional crafts, some of these pieces are not even found in museums. It was through dedicated efforts of the team that potters were identified who were familiar with the techniques of making these forms.
The Ghadai show opens at the KHAMIR campus in Bhuj, Kutch on January 17th, 2015 and will be on till the 31st of March. 2015. During this time it will also travel to Mumbai for a special display at Hermès, 15 A Horniman Circle, Mumbai from February 12th to March 1st 2015.
Do not miss it!

When we arrived in Ajrakhpur, Hojefa was not home … so we sat in front of his workshop. After the earthquake in 2001, a large number of workshops were built in the village to encourage the artisans to keep their craft of ‘Block Printing’, alive. They all look a bit similar : a concrete structure, flat roofs, a small sitting space in front of the entrance door and a patchwork of randomly spread colours on either side of the entrance wall, memories left by the buckets of dyes which were carried hurriedly in and out the building. But Hojefa’s entrance is different… no colours… but a layer of sawdust spread out on the ground as if an ocean of wood shaving was waiting inside for somebody to open and flow towards us. Hojefa is not a blockprinter, he is the one that makes the blocks for them! And he is the only one in Kachchh. His brother, working next door, explains that Hojefa has gone to Bhuj and will be back soon. He opens the door for us, inviting us to come and sit inside. We are not welcomed by a growling wave of sawdust as I expected but by a sea of saws, wood pieces, cutters, plyers, drills, punch, lime, hammer and a multitude of unknown objects scattered all around the place.The first thought that comes to my mind is “How can u work in this chaos!” And then Hojefa arrives. He quickly cleans a small low table to make me sit. He himself sits on the floor, fitting his whole body in a square foot of cleared space. His smile makes you forget everything that is around…he is an emperor and this is his kingdom. Let’s begin!? 16-IMG_532813-IMG_5337 He gathers all the tools that he needs in a few seconds and spreads them on a small foot stool that he uses as a workbench. He explains that this stool was made by his dad, it has 2 small compartments to keep the smallest wood cutters and punch. He then takes position behind his pillar drill and starts showing us how to shape a block. 15-IMG_5373 We are all fascinated by the speed at which he moves the block to carve the shape of the design he has previously marked on the piece of wood. When they were not using a power drill, they used to spend up to 6 days to finish one block. Now, depending on the complexity of the design, it can take a few hours to a day. 05-IMG_5420 06-IMG_5427 04-IMG_5417 07-IMG_5428 He still wants to show us how a block is made completely by hand and makes us go through the whole process. Marking. Shaping. Drilling. Cutting. Carving and Cleaning.  12-IMG_5312 14-IMG_5369 02-IMG_5398 The intricacy of the design is impressive and his precision and patience to transform it into a block is mind blowing. The shape that he is making will then be used to print thousands of meters of cloth, a single mistake will also be visible that many times… He is one more essential link in this fascinating chain of human skills that is block-printing. 10-IMG_5435 08-IMG_5431 03-IMG_5413 01-IMG_5396 As I pick up a paper with a beautiful ajrakh pattern handdrawn on it, covered with sawdust, swimming in this workshop, I ask him, “Hosafabhai, why aren’t there more block makers like you in Kachchh?” 09-IMG_5433 He hands me a saucer of chai and says, ” Because you have to sit. You have to sit the whole day. Sit sit sit. Be patient. and concentrate. Sit. It is true that many people know how to make blocks. They have the skill. But they do not want to sit. You have to be passionate and you just have to sit.” 11-IMG_5466 He spends nearly 2 hours sitting with us, replying to our questions and showing us all the steps of his work. During this entire time I didn’t once think of the chaos that was surrounding us, I only saw his passion, his dexterity, his smile and the beautiful perfection of his work.

Even after all these years, Musabhai remembers precisely the printed motif that he sold to a businessman in Ahmedabad when he was just a teenager traveling out of Kachchh for the first time. He showed me the fabric sample and said, “I had made so many blocks myself and stored them all in my work shed in Dhamadka. Then the earthquake came, and the ground shook and the blocks were completely smashed! Not one survived. So I moved to Ajrakhpur and remade them all again!”

Musabhai today is a successful businessman. With his two sons helping him in printing and dyeing, theirs is one of the most visited shop in Ajrakhpur. What we went to document in film was his ‘businessman skills’ and what we received in return was a whole lot more.

“Is she understanding everything I am saying?” he asks pointing towards Sarah who is filming us.
“No Musabhai, I don’t think so. After going home, we both will sit together and translate every word that you said and then she will understand.”

“But my words are ok?”
“Your words are perfect!”

Later on, inside a workshop a few meters ahead, Khalid makes a beautiful hand printed and painted masterpiece, all the while making jokes about why we came to live in Kachchh and work at Khamir and what is our salary! Khalid is one of a kind artist…and person. Truly. Try talking to him and you will see how!

This short glimpse into the lives of Khatris of Ajrakhpur could well have been made into 5 films if not for Sarah’s super editing skills. So many laughs, discussions, debates, bad sound recordings and mutton meals later, we ended up with this. Those were indeed some special moments and I am glad Sarah could put it all together so nicely, in this film “A New Beginning In Ajrakhpur”.

1-opening copy
Bringing together the Block printers and dyers of Kachchh and Khamir, our exhibition ‘Kachchh Ji Chhaap’ is now open!

The exhibition is an attempt to tell the story of prints and print making as it unfolded from the time it was practiced on the banks of the Indus to its many facets today. Kachchh Ji Chhaap is an intricate tale of the craftsmen, bringing together narratives of their lives, their milestones and their challenges.

The Exhibition will be held at the Khamir Campus from 7th December 2013 to 28th February 2014.

Winter is almost here. Our early morning walk and talk was beautiful last weekend at the Chatardi; the place where the Kings of Kutch buried their dead. Chatardi has a number of tombs built over several periods and lies in the heart of Bhuj City, close to the Hamirsar Lake.
It is believed that the main structure was erected to Rao Lakpatji, the most flamboyant King of Kutch who had a special interest for the arts. The Rao’s wife and 17 of their servants burnt themselves alive along with their beloved King. The Chatardi today lies in ruins after the many earthquakes that have engulfed this region and its architecture.


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