Mulana – The Village and the Artisans
The project was developed from a research trip in October 2001, when SiA’s artistic director, Ray Mahabir, travelled to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan (West India) and spent several months living amongst its village people.
The villages are made up of refugees from the 1971 Indo-Pak war that settled in Jaisalmer district.
The Mulana village is 96 Km from Jaisalmer. The village is situated in the middle of the Thar Desert where droughts can last up to five years. Our work involves 35 family groups where no English is spoken, there is no running water, health facilities are left to local homeopathic methods and work and education is very rarely available.
Work is brought into the villages and is sometimes the only means of earning a living, so the villagers have no choice but to accept what is given to them and this is where the exploitation takes place.
SIA has started to work in the villages and aims to develop the understanding of self-confidence in the women and their work, so they can expect a higher wage, allowing them to achieve a higher standard of living.
Using simple teaching methods and basic everyday knowledge that we take for granted, SIA has been disseminating this information never seen before by the villagers. As a result these women become increasingly independent and self-sufficient.
Working with the women artisans and the children in the village of Mulana we intend to use our skills to assist in the development of their craft.
The State of the Artisans
Treated like factory workers, aiming at mass production and being paid low wages we see these creative artisans losing their grassroots art forms. This results in the artisans producing poor quality work which has little market value.
In order to contribute to the family income, young girls in Mulana who are not allowed to attend school, help their mothers embroider. As a consequence the next generation of artisans are only learning to create similar low quality work.
This textile work is the only form of income for the women of the villages and their extended families. At present the women are being exploited and the traders who use these artisans to create their products make a considerable profit from their work.
Before the establishment of the project the artisans had very little understanding of design and production. A considerable amount of basic teaching needs is now given to the women and the young girls to develop their understanding of creativity, quality and marketing of their works. As the project continues we will look together at future production and marketing of a new range of village based products.
These distant and isolated village women have little, if any choice in their
embroidery work. This project started with the belief that if their talents were harnessed, supported and encouraged, they could create some really outstanding work.
What we Believe
Sunshine International Arts have always believed in people. Instead of thinking of the art that people create we like to think of “the art of people” .
Engaging with this project we have realised that this art comes out of a desperation for income and that such creative tasks are a means to support countless families. This art form is not just about adornment – it’s mainly about survival.
Card, books and bags are on sale at C.A.F.E and at our studio Ray@PB (Pop Brixton).