Aniela Fidler Wieruszewska and Megha Chauhan
23 January 2022
by Aniela Fidler Wieruszewska and Megha Chauhan
Community Couture has received the Crafting Futures Digital Collaboration Grant to launch 'Make A Mark', a United Kingdom - India collaboration. The project aims to bring the selected 16 participants: students, practitioners from the United Kingdom and India and a minimum of 6 Artisans from Rajasthan, India to explore what it means to make a mark using digital media and analogue craft. All participants, along with the artisans: Kota Doria fabric-weaver, Sanganer block-maker-block-printer, Barmer applique craftswomen, pattern-cutter and tailor, will illustrate their marks, which then will be used to create a one-off garment representing the experiences of the people who made it. The final garment will be available to rent. Loaning the piece will enable the wearer to learn about the stories it conveys. It will be accompanied by digital resources capturing its production process.
This six-month-long project initiated by Aniela Fidler Wieruszewska and Megha Chauhan kicked off with selected participants who responded to the open call. The participants range from fashion and communication design students, fashion and textile designers and other practitioners. The participants are: Priyanka Borar, Shailly Dave, Apoorva Dudeja, Vanshika Gandhi, Ipsita Kurikala, Ashna Patel, Pinkal Patel, Morag Seaton, Nikhil Shankar, Hena Sharma, Manik Sharma, Aishwarya Shyamkumar, Suneptula S Jamir, Ali Simmons, Grace Thompson and Navneet Virk. The organisers coordinate the project with continuous support from design researchers and practitioners Grace Lister and Suman Bhandary. We will disclose a complete list of Indian artisan's names and participant's extended roles at the later project stage.
In early January, we drew 24 marks upon reflecting on the meaning of one's legacy, place in the world, hopes and other stories we wanted to share and preserve. This workshop happened online using a digital collaboration platform Miro. This session enabled us to map our individual and collective values and illustrate them for the wider audience. Making is now underway. Designs are being transformed by Karamveer Singh, Sanganer block maker, including his mark, into wooden blocks that we will use to create the final print.
Concurrently, participants interested in pattern making and offcut-less methods are exploring the link between material efficiency and inclusion with pattern-cutting expert Pragya Sharma. At this stage, we experiment with potential garment features to define the amount of fabric needed to make it.
In December 2021, India collaborator Megha Chauhan and 3 participants residing in India went for a scoping trip to Sanganer and Kota in Rajasthan for block making, block printing and fabric weaving. The selected Indian crafts play an integral part in the project as we want to engage with stakeholders across the two countries through digital media. We want to experiment with a slow garment making process that gets passed down to multiple makers, from one hand to another and in the process leaving behind an imprint, a 'mark'. Block printing is a technique that captures the imprints quite explicitly and has been historically used for the exchange of knowledge through signs and symbols and as means of creative and artistic expression.
The short scoping trip connected the participants to the space of the makers, the culture and the people. One of the key aims for the scoping trip was to understand better the artisan's relationship with digital and social media tools. Our interactions revealed the diverse profiles of artisans in terms of digital proficiency. Considering the project's scope, we have decided to work with makers who are curious about filming documentation and want to share their craft/practice with a broader audience. This would further enable us co-develop an accessible filming kit for other makers.
The project is in full swing, to be completed at the end of April. We invite you to follow its progress on @community_couture – more updates coming soon!