One tends to judge a fabric on the basis of its colour and texture but what happens if you take the colours away? Titled Safed, a textile installation aims to focus on textures and take away the element of colour. The all-white hanging installation — made up of huge panels of various indigenous textile patterns and weaves — was on display at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts recently, and will now travel to the US, the UK and cities across India. The exhibit is part of The Craft Project by Sayali Goyal, Founder of independent web magazine Cocoa and Jasmine, which aims to celebrate cultural diversity through objects, folk art, craft and design. There was a session at the venue with Purnima Rai of Delhi Crafts Council, Ritu Sethi of Craft Revival Trust and Bindu Manchanda of INTACH as speakers, on the representation of Indian crafts in the West.

 On the concept of Safed, Goyal says, “While travelling to different textile regions in India, I was always fascinated with the workshops and homes of dyers, embroiders and weavers. Some of these workshops had loose white fabric hung for natural bleaching, and I wanted to translate this experience for the viewers.” She adds that a common string in most textile crafts of India is the white fabric, and the colour for her stands for purity and unity. Though she admits that it isn’t possible to visually showcase all Indian crafts in white, for instance kalamkari, but most weaves, embroideries and some prints can be. The crafts covered in the installation include pashmina, Eri silk, khadi, cashmere, Maheshwari cotton, jamdani and kora khadi. For Goyal and her team, a tangible exhibition was a natural progression to Cocoa and Jasmine. She says, “Even though the online medium has its own pros, it could take away the beauty of things, especially in art, craft and design.”

 The panel discussion during the inaugural day of the exhibit had Rai, Sethi and Manchanda talk about three aspects: craft documentation, sustainability within crafts communities (cultural, economic and environmental) as well as representing Indian crafts in the West. “It’s important to make crafts aspirational. In the West, Indian crafts are perceived as luxury, as people are able to appreciate the process and the artisans, proving that with design intervention, we can preserve culture and communities,” adds Goyal. To implement some of the suggestions and recommendations made during the session, 

the team will be travelling to the US and the UK with Safed in August-September. “There is a lot of information on the internet about each craft, however, we have curated it for the luxury buyers and designers who wish to connect with artisans. Soon we will be publishing a directory of artisans on the website,” she explains. The installation will also travel across India post October. In each city, a different panel will be curated. Also, more craft forms will be added to expand the scope of the display. Goyal says, “So far we have documented seven crafts, however, I will be travelling to Kutch and other textile regions to document more. There are more white fabrics being added to the Safed material library as well. The craft project will be an ongoing conversation between the makers, designer and consumers.”