The Living Arts of India: Craftsmen at Work

Serpentine South Gallery 8–31 May 1982 Free

A selection of nine distinguished crafts workers, carefully chosen from all over India, demonstrated their crafts in the gallery, using their own raw materials.

A selection of nine distinguished crafts workers, carefully chosen from all over India, exchanged their usual workplaces for five galleries in England, Scotland, and Wales, beginning with the Serpentine Gallery. For the exhibition, the craftsmen brought along their own raw materials, from clay and granite, to water reeds and beeswax, and fired their own pottery and cast metal on the site of the exhibition.

Photographs, lectures, and films, as well as the craftsmen’s own examples and explanations, all sought to convey a rich impression of their home environment, of the ways they gathered their materials, and the uses to which their work was put. An array of work from religious to everyday was on view.

The crafts on display included stone carving (Karnataka), pottery (Uttar Pradesh), Dhokra – lost-wax casting (Madhya Pradesh), Shola Pith – cork work (West Bengal), Kalamkari – patterned textiles (Andhra Pradesh), bronzes (Tamil Nadu), weaving (Nagaland), embroidery (Gujarat), and Pichhawai – hanging textiles (Rajasthan).

This exhibition was the Art Council’s travelling contribution to the 1982 Festival of India, and was curated by Swatantrata Prakash.

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