INTERMINGLING ART AND CRAFT KOLAM
Sanathanan Thamotharampillai & Pradeep Thalawatta
Creativity is a process. It is characterized by the ability to perceive novelty, find hidden patterns to draw connections between phenomena and to generate solutions. We believe, creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. As we highlight the tools that support artistic practice, prolific local artists Sanathanan Thamotharampillai and Pradeep Thalawatta explore the preconceived disciplinary boundary between art and craft through ‘Kolam’ representative of a myriad of creative influences.
Kolam is a brand, which is unique to the Jaffna Peninsula. Designed by a collective of artists and designers who articulate innovative ideas and creativity, Kolam preserves age-old traditions to create ethical design for daily use while empowering vulnerable community groups in the form of jewellery, sarees, and bags, which were launched and exhibited at Rithihi, Alfred House Gardens on the tenth of January.
Jaffna Peninsula has a long history in craft making involving locally available materials and techniques. According to documentation, ten percent of the total population of the Peninsula is directly involved with the local craft industry. But the thirty years of war and the lack of government support ruined the industry. In the post war situation the industry struggled to compete with other regional craft industries and the Indian craft industry in terms of quality and price. Although there are many initiatives to revitalize the industry through the agendas of economic development, the industry is lacking a creative approach befitting contemporary needs and marketing strategy.
Further, the growing tourist industry in Jaffna has been looking for authentic crafts from Jaffna as souvenirs, cultural objects, usable objects and mementos. But the available skills and materials are not actively connected with the expectation of the market. On the other hand, there are university undergraduates who have a training in craft making, remain unemployed. Although they have the knowledge to contribute to the local industry, they need motivation. In this context Kolam, which means ‘pattern’ in the Tamil language, was inaugurated in Febraury 2017, to create a space to connect the university graduates, local craftsmen and craft market in Jaffna.
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