Revitalizing traditional crafts through urban-artisan collaboration

As a precursor of City Bank presents Dhaka Makers 2, a residency workshop in partnership with EMK Center, Weaving Continuity, was initiated between January 17-19, to connect traditional artisans from remote corners of Bangladesh to urban artists and designers, to explore the potential of their collaboration.  

Artist and author, Shawon Akand and Designer Mahenaz Chowdhury curated a residency program which focused on rethinking the way the weaving sector specialises in Nakshi Kantha, Jamdani,  Cane and Bamboo. 

As a result, the program brought to Dhaka, five craftspeople specialising in different types of weaving – bamboo and cane master weavers, Ananta Kumar Das and  Pradeep Kumar Das from Kushtia, Jamdani master weaver Md Eunos Ali and his apprentice  Md Rezaul Islam from Sonargaon, and hand embroidery expert Umme Kulsum from Tangail. 

The program facilitated a workshop where the following urban artists and designers collaborated with these craftspeople over 3 days:  

  1. Sayeef Mahmud; Animated Film Maker  
  2. Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury; Visual Storyteller 
  3. Shah Newaz Shaikat; Visual Storyteller and Designer  
  4. Inteza Shariar; Architect  
  5. Hemayet Himu; Product Designer  
  6. Sadia Sharmin; Art Educator and Concept Developer  
  7. Ibraheem Paling; Nakshi Kantha Weaver and Illustrator  

During the workshop, esteemed professionals Shamim Reza, associate professor, Department of  Fine Art, Jahangirnagar University; MD Abdul Momen Milton, associate professor, Department of  Crafts, Dhaka University and Suraya Chowdhury, an industry insider with extensive experience,  were invited to speak to the workshop participants and share their thoughts on the preservation of  traditional crafts and culture.  

The artists and artisans ideated and collaborated together and broke off into smaller groups to  work on their projects. Sayeef Mahmud and Ibraheem Paling paired up with Jamdani master  weaver Md Eunos Ali; Shah Newaz Shaikat, Inteza Shariar and Hemayet Himu, with bamboo and  cane master weavers Ananta Kumar Das and Pradeep Kumar Das, while Shamim Ahmed  Chowdhury and Sadia Sharmin teamed with hand embroidery expert Umme Kulsum from Tangail. 

Thoroughly inspired by the workshop, at the end of the three-day workshop, the artists and artisans wanted to further continue their partnership and complete their projects together. 

As a result, our  urban artists and designers went to the hometowns of the master weavers. The completed  products of this collaboration will be on display at Dhaka Makers 2 which is set to take place  between February 1-4 2024 at Aloki Convention Center.  

The overarching objective of Weaving Continuity was to rethink craft as art which was originally the  case, and create collaborative art projects to bridge the gap between traditional skills and  contemporary demands. 

Moreover, the workshop aimed to provide a space to encourage open discourse regarding creative challenges, and to inspire the creation of collaborative products for  the lucrative Dhaka market.

This post was originally published on this site