Client: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport
Location: Mumbai, India
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $2,600
A sustainable celebration of a royal Indian art.
This Art Installation is a celebration of the humble “Paithani” weave and the discarded plastic bag. Embracing the concept of transformation and reuse as a fundamental aesthetic principle, a handcrafted fabric of waste plastic bags and biscuit wrappers made on a traditional handloom, forms the base of this artwork. Paithani, named after the town of Paithan near the Indian city of Aurangabad, is a carrier of a 2000 year old cultural legacy of Maharashtra (state housing Aurangabad) whose ancient motifs are derived from nature and living in harmony with nature and its elements. The “Asawali” motif of a flowering vine, often used in the body of the Paithani sari is woven all along the body of the plastic fabric.
A kaleidoscopic effect which is an intrinsic feature of the Paithani weave, has been translated on the upcycled plastic fabric which prompts a user to widen their peripheries about plastic waste. This artwork questions and overturns traditional notions of design and exposes modern India’s art revival programmes and challenges of consumption.
Quantity- 2 frames
Size- 0.5 ft (depth) x 8 ft (height) x 11 ft (width)
In India we mark and celebrate every rite of passage, particularly in travel – every threshold and doorway is enriched by a ritual, consecrating the journey through it. The Jaya He GVK Museum; India’s largest public arts initiative at the Mumbai International Airport, houses more than 5500 artefacts, works of 100 artists and some 1000 artisans, spread across a span of 3.2 kms.was conceived as an initiation into the immediate environment and the larger context of the airport, the city of Mumbai and of India as a whole.
For the "Celebrate Maharashtra" festival curated by the prestigious Jaya He GVK museum, we as designers, upcyclers and eco-warriors wanted to create an artwork that was more than just re-creating an iconic Maharashtra symbol by a creative assemblage of waste. An experiment of waste plastic bags and candy wrappers used as the weft and cotton thread as the warp in a handloom, yielded a stunning glistening fabric. A recent trip to a saree shop where the shopkeeper simply discarded a Paithani saree (which was finished over a period of 18-24 months) because of a trivial mistake in the weave, intrigued us to explore this textile form around which we conceptualised this Art Installation.
Collaboration is a mantra that we swear by, and had it not been for our collaborative partners throughout our social entrepreneurship journey, this art installation would have been “just another” piece of work and not gone ahead to win the India’s Best Project Award!
Using over 40 kgs of waste LDPE & MLP plastic bags, we collaborated with a for-profit organization in Gujarat to recycle this plastic waste into a vibrantly hued plastic fabric. After the base product was developed, we then set out to look for the local weaving artisans adept in the Paithani weaving art. These skillful weavers are habituated to working with fine silk and gold threads. Since we were working with a non-native fabric, pushing the boundaries of Paithani weavers to translate their skill on a plastic fabric was most challenging.
This collaboration of such varied artists and organisations really helped us grow as we were able to create a very strong environmental and social impact. .
This project created a real impact for all partners involved as the waste pickers, handloom weavers and paithani weavers helped us and others involved to be part of something much bigger.
Our client brief stated that since this Art Installation was to be placed at the Mumbai International Airport, there were a number of factors that had to be taken into consideration which followed the strict safety norms of the Airport. Each element of this frame had to go through a security check which meant that we had to first fully assemble the frame at our workshop, then dismantle it so that it could go through the small security gates and then construct the frame again at the site after attaining all the requisite permissions. Experimenting with a handmade plastic fabric was both complex and fun. We had to choose the right type of Paithani motif which would be prominent on the bright and glistening fabric base. Transferring that motif onto the plastic fabric was a series of hit and trial methods and we finally achieved the eureka moment by appliqueing the patterns. Since this was a unique space specific installation with mood and focus lighting all around, we accentuated our artwork through an expedient LED lighting along the edge of the wooden frame.