The terracotta craft community of Gundiyali is an enterprising community open to collaboration and growth. Over the journey of six years, various collaborative engagements through diverse projects, activities and events have taken place with the community starting in 2014. These include introducing innovation through design and technology, and the approach of experiential tourism among others.

About 2020: Celebrating Clay

Celebrating clay delves into generating new forms of cultural production for craft experiential tourism to promote active engagement over conventional passive consumption through products. It implements the craft experiential tourism toolkit to transform Gundiyali in a craft experiential tourism hub. The idea is to promote a collective sustainable development of the craft and tourism industry. The impact aided in situating Gundiyali on a global platform as a craft experiential tourism hub. It addresses some of the gaps in the craft sector like a lack of design and market exposure, connections with the source communities and representation of craft communities.

Project Activity: Initiating Dialogue

A comprehensive overview of the Gundiyali terracotta craft cluster helped to identify opportunities and challenges for the craft community and experiential tourists. The purpose was to familiarize and sensitize the community towards the larger idea of converting a village into craft experiential hub. This is the phase of introduction of the key craft families with whom we will be working along with the national and international artists and professionals.

Project Activity: Collecting oral narratives and stories from the cluster

Narratives allow building associations with the community. Once a dialogue has been initiated with the people at Gundiyali, systematic oral history documentation was carried out which included information about the culture, society, community, festivals, faith, food, rituals, philosophy, and livelihood. Immersive understanding of the people of Gundiyali aided in curating the interventions and experiences with the community. It further guided in creating a holistic plan of action created in collaboration with the community, bringing forth feasible possibilities.

Project Activity: Conducting Knowledge Exchange Programmes

The global pandemic took shape right before the international residency was planned, there was a need to gauge what can be done to engage in an international exchange without a physical residency. A digital Knowledge exchange programme was conceptualized to provide monetary support to the craft community during the uncertain times, with a training programme that facilitates exchange of knowledge across local, national and international borders. Here are the three programmes:

Design for diverse markets
This programme on Design for diverse markets aimed to sensitize craftspeople with the changes in consumer behavior and the kind of market opportunities that have emerged so they could ideate products catering to the needs of transforming times. Themes including trends around sustainability, gardening, small miniature objects for keepsakes, and more such ideas were discussed. The craftspeople then chose a market opportunity they wanted to develop product ideas for, alongside learning further from expert speakers and case studies. One-on-one discussions with the team facilitated ideation.

Speaker Sessions: 

  1. A Potter’s Mind Map by Snehal Kashikar
    Snehal Kashikar, a ceramic artist based in Ahmedabad, took craftspeople through the mind mapping diagram for introspecting crafts and skills as an artist, an important tool to get a clear picture. This process helped her to engage with her own practice deeply, opening new doors to various mediums of expression as an artist.
  2. A visit to my studio Lal mitti by Reyaz Badarrudin
    Reyaz Badarrudin, a ceramic designer takes the community on a virtual visit to his studio Lal mitti in Andretta, Himachal Pradesh, India. His inspiration keeps evolving to reflect a wide range of interests which mix social and aesthetics considerations. Lately, he has engaged with aspects of craft and craftsmanship, exploring the place and role of craftspeople. 
  3. New designs and market by Sumiran Pandya
    Sumiran Pandya, the co-founder and Director of Gaatha talked about the new design and market to terracotta craftspeople of Gundiyali. Taking an example of a pot, he discusses various shapes, sizes and ornamentation on it, creating evolution in its design and appearance.
  4. The voice of Craftpreneur by Vikas Gupta
    Vikas Gupta, owner of a brand ‘Chhapak’, a multidisciplinary designer, mentor, educator and entrepreneur took the craft community on the journey of a craft-preneur. He talked about designing by understanding the needs of the current market and explorations in materials for making products for the current market.
  5. Diverse market and Design by Shreya Alok Gupta
    Shreya Alok Gupta, a ceramic artist is based in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. She spoke about her experience on curating products for various markets, largely functional and decorative ceramics.
  6. A walk to Banana Pottery studio by Thomas Louis
    Thomas Louis, a ceramic designer is based out of Goa. In the video, he takes the craftspeople for a virtual walk to his pottery studio Banana Pottery in Goa. Thomas, with his keen interest in music, had developed some instruments out of terracotta which he shared with the craftspeople.

Outcomes of KEP session 1: Design for diverse markets

A total of 30 craftspeople participated in the first Knowledge Exchange Programme on designing for diverse markets. As the programme progressed with the inputs from expert videos, and one-on-one discussions, craftspeople explored diverse market opportunities, and created prototypes based on the needs of the contemporary needs. Some examples included utilitarian products, murals, tiles, souvenirs, and innovative planters.

Storytelling through technology and products

This programme emphasised on how storytelling adds value to the craft practice, and introduces craftspeople to digital methods of telling their stories. It talked about the importance of the stories related to objects, people, place and community. With one-on-one discussions with the participants, the craftspeople developed and responded with stories of their craft, community, village and products through digital mediums.

Speaker Sessions:

  1. Kahani Kumbhar ki (Story of the potter) by Aparna Jaishankar
    Aparna Jaishankar, a Gold Medallist in Social Work (MSW) from Bharathiar, started the banner ‘kAhini – What’s your story?’ where she creates various modules for learning through stories for children and training material for educators. In the video, Aparna has emphasised on the importance of storytelling with a strong message- ‘Every product has a story associated with it. When a potter sells a product, she/he also gives a part of herself/himself with the product in the form of a story. 
  2. A smile in my heart by Ela Mukherjee
    Ela Mukherjee is a ceramic artist from Delhi, and in the video, shared her story as an artist. She shared her journey from being a mother to a child to a ceramic artist. She talks about memories, feelings and inspirations arriving to her from various incidents. She has found inspiration for her artwork from her memories of a toy she played in her childhood.
  3. A magical toy by Jignyaa Vyas
    Jignyaa Vyas, a well-known theatre actress from Gujarati theatre, spoke about theatre plays as a medium to share craft narratives. Jignyaa has conveyed a strong message of the strength cultural and craft stories possess and how can it be shared by using mobile phones.
  4. Contemporary storytelling using traditional crafts by Nisha Vikram
    Through this video, Nisha Vikram has talked about the execution of craft narratives and stories. She has mentioned the key aspects that she takes care of while executing those narrative and stories in the form of murals and paintings. 
  5. Basics of Filmmaking by Nidhi Kamath and Keya Vaswani
    Nidhi Kamatha and Keya Vaswani, filmmakers (Storyloom Films, a National Award winning, Forbes India and National Geographic featured duo Keya Vaswani and Nidhi Kamath based in India), spoke about the basics of shooting a short video through a mobile phone. They explained about capturing the context, people and craft process in alignment with the basic fundamentals of filmmaking.  
  6. Use of Whatsapp and Instagram to promote crafts by Kumar Manish
    Kumar Manish, an experienced communications and social media strategist (he runs Communicate Karo, a social communications organization working for NGOs, government & academic institutions), spoke about promoting crafts through the use of platforms like Whatsapp and Instagram. The emphasis was on using social media for business purposes and further shared the success story of Madhubani mask makers.
  7. Facebook pe Dukaan My Shop by Vasim Samadji
    Vasim Samadji, a communication and social media strategist showed the steps of making an account on Facebook. He encouraged craftspeople of Gundiyali to explore the option of a Facebook shop for selling their products online. This gave all the craftspeople an opportunity to own a shop virtually and spread their market reach by sharing products and craft stories.

Outcomes of KEP session 2: Storytelling through technology and products

There were 30 participants in the Knowledge Exchange Programme for Storytelling through digital products. After hearing diverse perspectives about storytelling through talking about people, place and products, craftspeople documented their own narratives. These narratives were videos, pictures and texts that talked about stories of the craft practice, individual practitioners, about the motifs and patterns, regional folk musical instruments, history of the craft, and about the village and its culture.

Global and local trends

This programme discussed trends in the local and international markets for individuals to relook at their individual craft practice in the local and in the global scenarios. This also seeked to reflect on how international and regional craft practices can collaborate to articulate stories. In this programme, diverse artists from the UK and India along with collaborated with the craft community in a responsive exchange of ideas. The craftspeople talked about the social, cultural, geographical, craft practice based stories of their village and the artists responded with their outcomes in ceramic plates as well as warli art.

Speaker sessions: 

  1. ‘Groundwork’ by Gabriella Rhodes, Peter Jones & Jo Ayre
    The video ‘Groundwork’ was made by three artists who worked for two days exploring, experimenting and playing with objects, clay and shapes. They made marks, patterns and building ideas in an abandoned workshop located in an old pottery factory. The artists used only basic materials and objects that are present in the workshop.
  2. Making commemorative plates by Stephen Dixon
    UK Ceramic Artist, Stephen Dixon showed the process of the pots and plates he makes. The plates tell different stories as a commentary on what is going on in society or to commemorate a person, a place or an event. A Professor of Contemporary Crafts at Manchester School of Art, Stephen’s career as a maker is defined by a commitment to politically engaged practice, and a belief in the power of craft to engage the public imagination and to make a difference. As an academic and researcher as well as a maker, his practice engages with the narrative and decorative traditions of figurative ceramics, and brings this rich visual vocabulary to bear on contemporary issues and contemporary experience. 
  3. Still life by Reyaz Badarrudin
    Reyaz talks about his journey from Benaras to the UK. He talks about his series ‘Still Life’ that depicts his idea of society, arts and crafts. A ceramics artist based out of Andretta in Himachal Pradesh, his work explores a variety of thematics. His inspiration keeps evolving to reflect a wide range of interests which mix social and aesthetics considerations. Lately, he has engaged with aspects of craft and craftsmanship, exploring the place and role of craftspeople. 
  4. Warli Art by Ramesh Hengadi and Rasika Hengadi
    Ramesh Hengadi and Rasika Hengadi, Warli artists from Dhanu, Maharashtra talk about storytelling through Warli art. The video seeks to encourage cues for stories from the terracotta crafts community of Gundiyali which creates a dialogue between two craft practices, with which Ramesh and Rasika also engage in finding a way in which craft practices can collaborate to tell stories of each other.

Outcomes of KEP session 3: Global and local trends

The Knowledge Exchange Programme on Global and Local trends took the form of a digital residency with 40 craftspeople who participated in the programme. The craftspeople talked about the social, cultural, geographical, craft practice based stories of their village and the artists from across the UK responded with their outcomes in ceramic plates as well as warli art. The craftspeople also responded to the videos sent by artists in the UK, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra in India exploring wall paintings, abstract aesthetic arrangements and by decorating terracotta plates.

Project Activity: Conceptualising and executing a virtual Craft Walk for Gundiyali

A craft walk was planned as an immersive curated experience that keeps the craft practice at the centre of the dialogue, discussing about the community – the culture, history, lifestyle, practice, etc. While due to the pandemic, there is no possibility of having real-life interactions, a guided virtual immersive experience was created in the form of a story map.

Project Activity: Disseminating project outcomes

This project was imagined as a starting point for various long term relationships with the craftspeople, communities, organisations, professionals etc. The virtual exhibition was planned to disseminate the body of work done during the project and initiate long term collaboration. This would also connect craftspeople to various craft production organisations and practices to generate revenue for the community in the longer run. The exhibition was imagined to spark conversations about how the community can be benefited with the idea of craft tourism, and how long term collaborations can impact the craft practice.

Event: Celebrating Gundiyali: beyond Clay (Exhibition)

This exhibition showcases a five-year collaborative journey of discovering and working with the terracotta crafts cluster of Gundiyali. It emphasises on the idea of developing opportunities for sustainable development in the craft communities by bringing craft, tourism and experience together. It gives an insight to engagements done with the community over the last five years and discusses in detail the year 2020 with the project ‘Celebrating Clay: generating new forms of cultural production for craft experiential tourism’- supported by the Crafting Futures India UK Collaboration Scheme by the British Council.

Outputs

Data Bank
Celebrating Clay project poster
Data Bank
Banner-Celebrating Clay project
Data Bank
KEP2- Storytelling through technology and product
Data Bank
Knowledge Exchange Programme (KEP) poster
Videos
Orientation video_Knowledge Exchange Programme
Data Bank
KEP1-Designing for diverse markets-poster
Videos
KEP 01: Introduction to Design for diverse markets by Rishav Jain
Videos
KEP 01_01: A Potter’s Mind Map by Snehal Kashikar
Videos
KEP 01_02: A visit to my studio Lal mitti by Reyaz Badarrudin
Videos
KEP 01_03: New design and market by Sumiran Pandya
Videos
KEP 01_04: Voice of Craftpreneur by Vikas Gupta
Videos
KEP 01_05: Diverse market and Design by Shreya Gupta
Videos
KEP 01_06: A walk to Banana Pottery studio by Thomas Louis
Videos
KEP 01_Case study video by Bhargav Padhiyar
Videos
KEP 02_00: Introduction to Storytelling through technology and products by Mansi S Rao
Data Bank
KEP2-Speakers
Videos
KEP 02_01: Kahani Kumbhar ki by Aparna Jaishankar
Videos
KEP 02_02: A smile in my heart by Ela Mukherjee
Videos
KEP 02_03: Mobile – a magical toy by Jignyaa Vyaas
Videos
KEP 02_04: Contemporary storytelling using traditional crafts by Nisha Vikram
Videos
KEP 02_05: Basics of film making by Nidhi Kamath & Keya Vaswani
Videos
KEP 02_06: Use of WhatsApp and Instagram to promote Crafts by Kumar Manish
Videos
KEP 02_07: My shop on Facebook by Vasim Samadji
Videos
KEP 02: Case Study of Storytelling through technology and products by Radha Devpura
Data Bank
KEP3- Global and Local Trends
Data Bank
KEP3-Speakers
Videos
KEP 03_00: Introduction to Global and Local Trends by Kathan Kothari
Videos
KEP03_01: Groundwork by Gabriella Rhodes, Peter Jones & Jo Ayre
Videos
KEP03_02: Still life by Reyaz Badarrudin
Videos
KEP03_04 | Warli Art by Ramesh Hengadi and Rasika Hengadi
Videos
KEP03_04: Making commemorative plates by Stephen Dixon

Organisations

Sponsor: The British Council
Partners: The Clay Foundation, UK; British Ceramics Biennial
Collaborators: Manthan Educational Programme Society, Indian Ceramics Triennial, Institute of Indian Interior Designers
Speakers: Gabriella Rhodes, Peter Jones, Jo Ayre, Stephen Dixon, Reyaz Badarrudin, Ramesh Hengadi, Rasika Hengadi, Vasim Samadji, Kumar Manish, Nidhi Kamath and Keya Vaswani, Nisha Vikram, Jignyaa Vyas, Ela Mukherjee, Aparna Jaishankar, Snehal Kashikar, Sumiran Pandya, Vikas Gupta, Shreya Alok Gupta, Thomas Louis