Santati is a sequence that does not break, an infinite loop, a continuum. Through his seamless, sleepless journey from Gandhi to Mahatma, this visionary radiated, imbibed and left behind messages in mindful living, messages bare in their truth, messages that move in the concentric rings of time, holding within them the power to overturn the world. From uniting a diverse country through non-violence to inspiring global leaders and instilling the resolve of tireless, detached action, he entered the veritable spirit of generations. Ablaze with a dream, charged with an electric intellect, carrying a mind and body deeply willing to suffer for Truth, Mahatma Gandhi is no more just a person, a philosophy, an idea. 150 years after his birth, he has merged with the soil to become a state of mind. To permeate this state of mind, exceptional artists and minds come together for Santati to interpret their Gandhi.
Khadi, a Canvas
Influenced by the ideology of Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) and inspired by the service of Mapu (Martand Singh), Khadi, a Canvas is conceptualized by Mrs Lavina Baldota to celebrate the mellow beauty, sophistication, yet the exceptional glamour of the hand-spun, hand-woven Khadi. The project is presented by, Abheraj Baldota Foundation, along with renowned textile artist Gaurang Shah, as a tribute to two stalwarts of Indian history - Mahatma Gandhi, The Father of the Nation and Raja Ravi Varma, The Father of Modern Indian Art. A first of its kind, this spectacular exhibit recreates paintings of artist nonpareil Raja Ravi Varma on the canvas of Gandhi’s Khadi, not with a brush and paint but through intricate and complicated Jamdani hand-weave, the yarns dyed in over 600 shades of vegetable dye, presenting it as an evolving aesthetic expression of wearable art on the pallu’s of Sarees. Santati was unveiled to the world on the 1st of October 2019, at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The project has embarked on a National and Worldwide tour to renowned art museums and galleries to give the viewers a lasting insight into the finest interface of Indian art and Indian craft.
Khadi, The Identity of India
The Abheraj Baldota Foundation promotes and preserves Gandhian philosophies and ways of Life. Lavina Baldota, custodian of the Foundation conveys, “I want to make people realize that Khadi is not just a humble fabric. It’s a fabric that symbolizes strength, resilience and patriotism; it speaks of struggle and perseverance. Through this exhibit I seek to glamourize Khadi, from modest to resplendent. I wish to take Khadi from being an important tool of the past, to a relevant necessity of the present, to a sought after luxury of the future.” For Gaurang Shah, Khadi is a true symbol of Indian identity: “The textile history of India and the expertise in the field were major reasons for the prosperity of India in ancient era. But under the colonial rule, the British destroyed the textile industry of India. Under Gandhi’s Swadeshi movement Khadi production was encouraged, enabling Indians to regain their confidence and dignity through Self-reliance. It was a movement that made every person who spun Khadi a part of the freedom struggle. As a textile artist these hand-woven Khadi sarees are my tribute to Gandhi’s philosophy and showcasing the potency of Khadi in its journey, from looms to luxury”.
Creative representation of the Paintings through Weaves
Six Hundred shades and hues of naturally dyed textured silk yarns were developed to give the 3D effect while recreating the paintings in Jamdani weaves. Junaid Khatri the master craftsman from Kutch, with his deep knowledge of natural dyes took up this challenge and used unconventional methods to create colours which have never been done before. For instance eight to ten shades of each colour were created; in white alone he created twelve shades as each shade is significant to throw life to the nuances of the painting. To a lay man it may all just seem as white but if that particular shade of white is not used the painting cannot be replicated in the weaving perfectly. Gaurang says,“These tonal differences were achieved by the dye that was used, and the conditions in which the yarns were dried. If it was the summer’s sunlight the colours would be bright and shiny, but if it was the winter’s sunlight the shade was more muted. Some colours had to be dried in the shade to retain its colour. Once the shade was achieved, it would be treated to colour fix it. While the dying process of the yarns were done, my dyer had to live the painting, think about what time the painting was set, what kind of sunlight it had at that time of the day… how does the setting sun affect the sari colours as opposed to the rising sun, if it was indoors, then what was the light source and how it affected her skin tone… etc.” The yarn used to weave the sarees was procured from the Khadi certified center Ganjam Zilla Khadi Gramodyog Sangh, Odisha.
Twenty master weavers, eighteen women & two men, have worked on creating these masterpieces. Each saree has taken between six months to two years to weave. This opportunity has given the women weavers showcase their exemplary skill, girth and determination to bring to life the portraits of Ravi Varma in Jamdani weaves. These women have been trained by our master weavers for the last three years to make them proficient. Our weaver Lakshmi, "This project has challenged everyone’s skill and performance. My patience, expertise of colour, design and the Jamdani technique guided me to create accurately the reproduction of painting in the most imaginative, sustainable and innovative way.”
Gaurang, in his journey of 20 years has given equal opportunity to the women weavers, helping them to be self reliant, financially independent and take pride in their occupation. These master-pieces were woven in Vishakhapatnam, Srikakulam district & in the villages of Chapara, Badam, Kodara and Karapalle.