Bhubaneswar/Delhi: With the silent breeze, the numerous butterflies in vibrant colours fly up creating a scene so magical and enticing, only to settle back on the pallu of sarees created by Delhi-based designer Rema Kumar. These appliqué works from Odisha have been a common fixture in her collection for past one year.
From canopies and umbrellas of Pipili, she brought the motif of butterflies, fish, birds, village girl and scenes to saree, blouse, dupatta, stole and skirt. And the three collections with applique works have been much appreciated with orders and repeat orders for the same. “The motifs bring a child-like feeling and ecstasy to the whole collection. The orange saree with fish motif was much in demand. The skirts though are more muted with motifs along the border,” she said.
A 14-day residency programme, ‘Excavating Odisha’ in Raghurajpur in Puri district last year introduced her to the beautiful Pipili applique work. “I was the co-curator and had to make a few trips to Odisha ahead of the programme. I was drawn to the colours, so vibrant and lively, and decided to work on it,” said Rema, who recently exhibited her collection ‘Textile Tales’ in Chennai.
For her three collections, she collaborated with Chandamani Mohanty, who heads a group of women specialising in appliqué work in Pipli. “Language has been a barrier for me while working with artisans in Odisha, but with Chandamani, we clicked from the beginning and it has been a fruitful association,” she said.
Rema, however, rues the laid-back attitude of Odisha artisans. “They take their sweet time to complete work. The customers too have come to accept this fact. It is impossible to set deadlines for them. But the most beautiful part is that they are a content lot, which also reflects in their work.” she said.
Her ‘Gamcha Dupattas’ have also been inspired by the coastal village of Brahman Alandia, near Raghurajpur, where people weave basic off-white gamchas throughout the day all-year round. “I call Odisha the Gamchaland because, the minute you step out, you find men — most of them shirtless due to sultry conditions — with gamchas flung casually across their shoulders,” she said.
Rema has incorporated the forgotten butis of morpakhis (peacocks) and prajapatis (butterflies) in her collection of dupattas and sarees.
The colourful Pattachitra and the delicate palm-leaf engravings that depict characters and scenes from Hindu mythology, also fascinated her. “I visited different weaving villages and hit upon the idea of developing blocks inspired by the delicate borders and motifs. These hand-blocked stoles became the backdrop for the Pattachitra artists to add his touch by painting mythical figures of Navagunjara, Kamadhenu, Matsyakanya, Airavat, Garuda on the pallu,” she said.
Rema is equally enticed by the textiles of Odisha. “The textile of the state is so rich, I am almost perplexed when zeroing in on one. But I plan to work with the weavers of Odisha in near future,” she added.