Continuing with more information in LLDC & Craft Museum, an initiative of a kind by Shrujan.
From Ami Shroff (Director).
The genesis of Living and Learning Design Center (LLDC)
LLDC begins where Shrujan leaves off. While Shrujan is aimed at providing a platform for artisans to earn a livelihood, LLDC has a larger agenda, that of ‘Preserving and reviving the Craft culture and tradition’ of the Kutch region. It is first of its kind, kaarigar dedicated multi-dimensional craft education and resource center. By late 70s & 80s, embroidery would have vanished if Shrujan hadn’t have come into the picture. There was a strong need for a place that can preserve these craft and embroidery gems for future generations to see and learn from. That is where the idea behind the Living and Learning Design Center was born. The center was launched in January 2016 and it aims to train, educate and support kaarigars to practice their traditional crafts for contemporary markets so that they can once again earn a dignified and prosperous livelihood through their skills.
The LLDC will serve three groups – practicing kaarigars, aspiring kaarigars and rural youth – irrespective of their skill and education level. It will provide intensive, need-based training to practicing kaarigars so as to strengthen their craft practice and make their craft products relevant and marketable. Master kaarigars who are the living legends of their craft will play a key role as teachers, mentors and collaborators. Formal education and technical skills are not a prerequisite for learning at LLDC, making it accessible to anyone interested in crafts. Aspiring kaarigars and rural youth can therefore enroll at LLDC to learn a craft and practice it as a viable and attractive career option. This is one of the main reasons why we planned LLDC in the rural areas of Kutch and not in a township. The LLDC campus lies amidst 9 acres of fruit orchards near Ajrakpur village, 16 kms from Bhuj, Kutch. Apart from the kaarigars & villagers, LLDC is dedicated to other audiences as well. It encourages urban designers to explore the potential of the crafts, provide a one-stop destination for craft lovers and educate urban visitors about their role in preserving and promoting the crafts.
The Crafts Museum
The centerpiece during the launch that took place on January 23rd was the Crafts Museum – a-first-of-its-kind international level museum that showcases the best examples of both traditional as well as contemporary crafts of Kutch. The Crafts Museum is primarily for the kaarigars and the rural youth. The Museum artifacts are aimed at inspiring them and providing learning inputs to enhance their design sensibility and creativity. The Crafts Museum is meant to serve other functions as well. It provides craft lovers from all over the world with a one-stop destination to deepen their involvement with the crafts of Kutch, as well promote greater collaboration opportunities between designers all over the world and karigaars present locally.
The Museum will also educate urban visitors about the value of crafts emerging from this particular region. All these audiences will directly and indirectly play a role in preserving and promoting the crafts and also enhancing the opportunities for livelihood of the local Kutch kaarigars. Phase One will also provide intensive, need-based training to practicing kaarigars so as to strengthen their craft practice and make their craft products relevant and marketable. Master kaarigars who are the living legends of their craft will play a key role as teachers, mentors and collaborators.
The second part of LLDC is its ‘Research Wing’. This part of LLDC will be dedicated to discovering the embroidery tradition of the Kutch region. Although we have been undertaking research work at Shrujan since as early as 2004, this wing will now enable us to document the embroideries that are centuries old and preserve them for future generations.
The third wing of LLDC is the kaarigar dedicated ‘Crafts Studio’ that will enable artists from other craft areas besides embroidery to hone and explore new skills under the LLDC wing. Currently the studio has potters, weavers and even hand block printers working at the center learning new techniques and exploring new design ideas and adding their own spin of creativity to make new products that can be marketed to a larger audience.
Impact created by Shrujan and LLDC
Having been around for 47 years Shrujan has become an integral part of the Kutch. It has touched thousands of artisans in the Kutch region, especially women. Financially, they are more secure and the money they earn through Shrujan acts as an additional source of income for the family when the times are good, and when they are challenged with hardships, it can even become the main source of income for the family. Women have been able to not only provide better lives for their family, but have also been able to support their dreams, by providing better education to their children, buying cattle or gold when times are good, and by being a pillar of strength in times of hardship. Apart from the financial independence, working with Shrujan has also given these women a sense of empowerment to take care of their family and their well-being.
With LLDC opening its doors, the impact is expected to reach greater heights and the opening ceremony in January was a strong indicator of that. The center had over 1500 women kaarigars travel over the four days of the opening ceremonies, to witness their tradition and work displayed at the LLDC. Some of these women had left their homes and villages and traveled for first time in their lives, just to see the Museum and the center where their children now had a chance to learn a traditional skill.
Ultimately, however, the biggest reward comes from the trust that each woman artisan has placed in Shrujan to empower them to change and design their lives in the way only they can.
Check out the full interview & insight of SHRUJAN with AMi Shroff – The Art Capital of Gujarat – PART2 – SHRUJAN – Insight with Ami Shroff