TEXTILES, MODE AND CRAFT

STORY-TELLING THROUGH PATACHITRA PERFORMANCE ON THE COLONIAL HISTORY
AND CULTURAL DIFFUSION ALONG THE HOOGHLY RIVER

Patachitra of Bengal is a tradition of visual storytelling. Stories are painted on long scrolls by the
painters known as Chitrakars who gradually unfurl them while singing the stories. The songs are called Pater Gaan. One of the fascinating aspects of Patachitra is the use of natural colours. The Patuas paint and sing on various themes like mythological tales, historical and contemporary
issues.
When Europeans sailed up the Hooghly for the first time in the early sixteenth century, they found a diverse population of ethnicities and faiths living along its banks. The principal attraction of Bengal to Europeans was the trading opportunities that it offered – spices, silk, cotton, etc. Europeans were also fascinated by the position that the river occupied in local life.
The renowned Patachitra artist, Swarna Chitrakar from Naya village, will paint a narrative of ‘Little Europe on the Hooghly’ in the form of a story and compose a song to sing the story to the audience. Swarna through her Patachitra will try to capture some of the interesting facets of the colonial history of the Portuguese, Dutch, Danes, French, and the British. Travelling northwards from Kolkata (British), there is Serampore (Danes), Chandannagar (French), Bandel (Portuguese) and Chinsurah (Dutch) and the cultural legacies they have left behind.

Details about the artist

Swarna Chitrakar  is a scroll painter from the state of West Bengal, India. Born in Naya village of Paschim Medinipur district, in the family of Patachitra artists, she practices a unique folk art of painting-cum-storytelling through songs. She has received State Award, travelled to USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany and Sweden showcasing her art skills, collaborating with artists and participating in residency programs. Her paintings are bought by connoisseurs and collectors.

BAUL PERFORMANCE

Knowing yourself is the essence of Baul Fakiri music, which reflects the joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine. Living the life of an esoteric, denouncing the material world, they urge people to rise above the divides created by caste, creed and religion to find peace. Simple words, hearts touching tunes with instruments like Ektara, Dotara, Dhol, Flute, Dubki etc. have enchanted the audience, the world over. The artists live in different districts of West Bengal, mostly at Nadia, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Bardhaman, and Bankura. There are about 2500 Baul musicians in Bengal. Bauls and Fakirs are now regularly performing at various local, national, and international fairs and festivals. New audiences in urban areas have added to the demand for this music.
The four member team led by Girish Mandal and Rabi Das Baul will be performing at an event in Chandannagore, celebrating the Hooghly heritage shaped by the cultural diffusion between Bengal and European colonies, since the sixteenth century.

Details about the artists

Girish Mandal   (aka Girish Khyapa) of Bardhaman district, is a well-known Baul singer. He plays Dotara, Ektara (string) and Dugi (rhythm). Girish has performed across India and also at Noyon, France and Trondheim, Norway, Washington, USA.

Rabi Das Baul Born as Rabi Mondal in Bhubandaga of Birbhum district in 1978, this highly talented young singer also plays the Dotara (a traditional string instrument), Khamak (a traditional percussive string
instrument) and Dubki (a traditional rhythm instrument). He was trained by Basudeb Das Baul in his formative years. Rabi has performed across India, including his home state West Bengal, New Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and Agartala, and also abroad in Scotland, the Ethno Krakow
Crossroad World Music Festival in Poland, Washington, USA.

A SLICE OF FRANCE

A slice of France in the Hooghly Heritage Hub project is inspired from the polluting water body of river Ganges, which has resulted into an ecological dis-balance. Alliance française du Bengale and the French Insitute in India in collaboration with the fashion designer-artist Abhishek Dutta is building up a textile collection which inspires people to conserve the holy river. The collection is about fluidity as well as structured elements inspired from the Indo-French colony of Chandannagore in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. The French motifs are the integral part of the collection along with hand-woven Indian textile and craftsmanship.
The programme on 5. December will include the showcasing of this collection through a uniquely choreographed fashion show.

Details about the artist

Abhishek Dutta  is the winner of Smirnoff International Fashion Award and has been in the design industry for the last 17 years. He has showcased in numerous fashion weeks across the globe and has been retailing internationally. His distinguished style is a fusion of ancient embroidery with futuristic cuts. He has been awarded the Bharat Nirman award in 2013 for his outstanding contribution in the field of fashion.