Kala Raksha: A World of Tradition Artisans
Kala Raksha means “Art Preservation”, it was officially established in 1993, as a registered society and trust by co-founders Judy Frater and Prakash Bhanani. It aims to preserve the traditional arts of the region by making Kutch culturally and economically viable.
All activities are artisan driven and Kala Raksha encourages community members to work together towards the goal of self-sufficiency. Generating income through their traditions, community members can realize their strengths and maintain their identity as they develop.
Comprised of artisans, community members, and experts in the fields of art, design, rural management, and museums, Kala Raksha today works with nearly 1,000 embroidery artisans of seven ethnic communities. Artisans produce some of the most exquisitely hand embroidered and patchworked garments, accessories, and home furnishings made in Kutch.
Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya(KRV)
In November 2005 KRV, an institution of design for working with traditional artisans of Kutch, the first such institution in India. Evolved from years of design development based at the Kala Raksha Museum, KRV is an educational institution open to working artisans of Kutch, conservatively estimated at 50,000. It aims to provide knowledge and skills directly relevant to the artisan’s traditional art to enable market appropriate innovation, while honoring and strengthening the tradition.
The brand “Artisan Design” was launched in 2010. In many crafts, an artisan executes a product designed by someone other than herself. An Artisan-Designed product is created entirely by the artisans. For Kala Raksha, the designing process is as important as the product and this trademark certifies that a product is an artisan’s own creative innovation.
Fostering Engagement and Exchange
Kala Raksha continues to focus on building links through which KRV graduates can develop their capacity as designers and find new and better markets. In December 2012, Kala Raksha and the Vidhyalaya hosted the seventh workshop with faculty from Kansas State University. These artisan workshops foster exchange and appreciation focused on building long term global relationships. In 2011, Kala Raksha instituted workshops for anyone interested in learning the textile arts of Kutch. These workshops foster exchange, and a hands-on appreciation of the regional artisan talent. You too, can learn these traditional handcrafts.
In addition, Kala Raksha produced 15,000 narrative works based on six masterpieces as a Corporate Gift for Bestseller, a Denmark based company. This was accompanied by brochures on the narrative tradition in India, and on the Kala Raksha project, and a short documentary film on the Kala Raksha narrative project. The collection received the 2008 UNESCO Seal of Excellence award.
Kala Raksha’s model of comprehensive development – from “we are ONLY artisans…” to “WE ARE ARTISANS”