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Elephant coffee spoons - the difficulty of cultivating a sustainable Indian craft culture


Are crafts still alive in India today?
KG Subramanyan Artist
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Do you feel the crafts still are alive, fully alive in India?

I do not know whether the crafts are still alive, and crafts are still alive for the wrong reasons. They want to earn dollars and pounds, and the tourist industry makes use of these crafts. But the whole idea is that if you are thinking of terms of the kind of expertise that these craftsmen have, you can recreate a whole sort of system of Indian handicraft as it was at one time. I mean, they have the expertise still. Of course, they are being vulgarised because of the people who merchandise these goods do not have the right taste or the right understanding. In fact, when the craft was somehow, the development of crafts was somehow turned to the question of foreign trade, I had tried many times to persuade the people saying that look, you are doing the wrong thing. In fact, if I think in terms of craft, as a sort of valuable culture, I said it is on the basis of the nexus between the user and the maker, and a close nexus so that both get educated in the process.


KG Subramanyan (1924-2016) was an Indian artist. A graduate of the renowned art college of Kala Bhavana in Santiniketan, Subramanyan was both a theoretician and an art historian whose writings formed the basis for the study of contemporary Indian art. His own work, which broke down the barrier between artist and artisan, was executed in a wide range of media and drew upon myth and tradition for its inspiration.

Listeners: Timothy Hyman

Timothy Hyman is a graduate of Slade School of Fine Art, London, in which he has also taught. In 1980 and 1982, he was Visiting Professor in Baroda, India. Timothy Hyman has curated many significant art exhibitions and has published articles and monographs on both European and Indian artists.

Duration: 1 minute, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 10 September 2010