Chennai: Heart-shaped balloons and red roses have become clichéd expressions of love. This February turn to ancient poetry to express your affection. The Madras Mag is launching Kurunthokai by S Ramachandran – a collection of poems from the 2000-year-old Sangam literature on love, loss and separation at the Makers Market at Lalit Kala Akademi on Friday. The book with handmade illustrations is one among many handcrafted products that will be available at the fair.
An initiative of By Hand From The Heart, the two-day event will see 33 artisans from different cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kochi and Kolkata. In its 17th edition, the market was preceded by a three-day art show which exhibited a range of art pieces from paintings to paper sculptures.
Unlike typical exhibitions where slots can be bought, this fair is curated and select artisans are invited to sell their work. “Craftspeople must be given enough space for branding. We, therefore, provide a platform for artisans providing content-specific products,” says Deepa Sekar, who curates the event with Kshiti Davey.
From cardboard lamps to vintage furniture, resin jewellery to organic clothing, the market caters to a wide spectrum of people. One of the major attractions is the clay sculptures by Delhi-based Aman Khanna, founder of Claymen. Made of stoneware, these art pieces are in sober colours like grey unlike their terracotta counterparts.
“The sculptures can be functional or dysfunctional depending on how one perceives them. Sometimes they have faces carved on them and each piece has a story behind it,” says Khanna, whose work also centres on issues like poverty.
Putting a spin on stoneware, Shilpy Gupta of Bengaluru-based Ceramic Trail paints her jars and wall-hangings with mineral oxides while creating them on the wheel. Gupta says the fair is an ideal platform as it connects artisans who make niche crafts to their target audience.
Agreeing to this, Mita Majitha of Corr Beauty says it provides greater exposure. Her background in interior designing is reflected in her unique collection of lamps made from corrugated cardboard. “I use the corrugation to my advantage as it plays with lighting and enhances the aesthetics of a place,” says Majitha.
Being the only book publisher in the fair, city-based The Madras Mag hopes to create an interest in art-based books. “Apart from the Kurunthokai launch, an anthology of contemporary writing which includes illustrations and a few articles from our online magazine will be on sale,” says founder Krupa Ge, adding that calendars with digital prints of vintage books covers will be available too.
The quirky notebooks and calendars of Tiny Farm by Riddhi Desai are a must-visit especially for Chennaiites as they capture the essence of the city.
The Makers Market is open from 11am to 7pm at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Egmore on February 5 and 6.
(The edited version of this article appeared in the Times of India, Chennai edition on February 5, 2016).