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Japanese art curator to teach handicrafts to rural and urban poor

 Nandini Guha |  2015-12-10 22:23:05.0  |  Kolkata

Japanese art curator to teach handicrafts to rural and urban poor

Japanese art curator Midori Yamamoto is going back to the legendary artist Nandalal Bose’s concept of art for the community — and will be teaching Japanese handicrafts  in India. 

She is experimenting with Bose’s theory of community art — which won him accolades from even Mahatma Gandhi — by teaching Japanese handicrafts to the rural and urban poor in this country.

To begin with, Midori will be teaching the art of sandal-making to the teachers of a Delhi based NGO supporting blind women beginning December 15. She is also working on a handicrafts project in and around Santiniketan which she will take up in 2016. Those who undertake training are expected to sell their products at fairs for the handicapped.

Nandalal Bose, whom Midori draws inspiration from, fostered the idea of ‘collective art initiative’ along with his associates and students throughout his life. While Tagore’s focus was on the cultural regeneration of India, Gandhi’s primary concern was the political and economic independence of the country. Nandalal always paid tribute to the village potter and village artisan who fashioned his wares with simple tools and simple ideas in the various exhibitions that he curated while working with Gandhi.

This project, under the Japan-India Women’s Handicraft Activity (JIWHAPC), aims to promote better gender enviroment for next generation through social sharing of Indian handicrafts and contemporary Japanese handicraft with the cooperation of women.  “It aims at connecting every woman across the social stratum in India through the handicraft activity to spend time together making sandals, bags and jewellery items which can be sold easily,” Midori told Millennium Post.

Once, handicrafts was one of the communication tools between mother and daughter. The joy of handicraft-making was often handed down from mother to daughter within the family. After these working groups gain some experience on handicraft actvity as creator, they will connect with underprivileged women to teach them its technique for self-reliance and economic support, she explained.

Also in the pipeline are Cartonnage bags made from traditional paper, a craft born in 18th century France. Japanese-style sandals made from the recycled cloth will be a big draw, feels Midori. 

Traditionally, Japanese made straw sandals at home. “All family members including child and women made sandals at night after they finished housework. Although this custom has disappeared with time, people have switched to making cloth-sandals as an artistic handicraft in recent years. Handicrafted resin jewellery will also be produced under the  JIWHAPC project using origami paper and Japanese design at a later stage.

Midori’s efforts to teach Japanese handicrafts under this project will be financed by the  Takemura Fund for Feminist Research for Gender Equality and Justice. 

The late Prof Kazuko Takemura, a Japanese scholar, who devoted her life to feminist studies passed away due to illness at the age of 57 in 2012 but set up this grant for upcoming scholars and activists who engaged in feminist studies, gender problems and women’s empowerment.

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