Nishi Srivastava was over the moon when she secured a job as a patent data scientist in New Delhi. However, her happiness soon turned to disappointment as her busy schedule left her with no time to pursue a beloved hobby—art.
At the time, Nishi was frustrated about the lack of creative places in the city, where she could just unwind and meet other people who shared her passion for art. Little did she know then that a leisure trip to the Kutch desert would turn her life around completely.
Today, the former data scientist works with over 80 artisans across India, doing her best to revive cultural art and craft forms.
From approving patents to reviving dying crafts
The beginning of Nishi’s story was like thousands of others in the country. The resident of Prayagraj grew up with parents who encouraged her to study engineering and pursue a “good” lucrative job.
“Although I studied electronics engineering, it never really struck a chord with me. But that was life as I knew it. My social anxiety, low self-esteem and borderline depression were crippling my mental health, but I didn’t know what I was suffering from. I just knew that something was missing from my life. Nonetheless, I completed my studies and got a job in Delhi.”
There, she spent several months feeling listless. None of her colleagues were keen on exploring art galleries, and the spaces seemed intimidating when she visited them alone.
“The weekends felt empty, but I had no idea how I would utilise them constructively. My visit to Kutch came like a force of inspiration,” she mentions.
At Kutch, she witnessed Lippan, a raditional mural craft, for the first time. Popularly known as clay art, it is mostly done inside mud huts to keep them cool.
When Nishi inquired whether the artisans ever thought of replicating the impressive art on a commercial level, the response was tepid.
Determined to give the artisans a better platform where, Nishi learnt the art herself, documented it and brought it to Delhi.
In September 2017, she established The Craftsutra, an organisation based in Delhi that focuses on reviving dying ancient arts and help enthusiasts learn too. This weekend, she is organising a workshop in Bengaluru about chalk paint. Click here to book your place.
What is chalk paint, and where can I learn it in Bengaluru?
Developed by British artist Annie Sloan in 1990, chalk paint is a sustainable paint that eliminates the need for primers and sanding. It goes on basically everything- decorating your photo frames, furniture and home decor pieces effortlessly and giving them a vintage look.
A blessing in disguise for all those who love DIY projects, the chalk paint can be turned into any colour and stays on your furniture for a long time. So take out those broken chairs and shabby window sills to give them a beautiful paint finish.
“Although readily available in the market, you can learn to make the chalk paint yourself. In this 3-hour workshop, you will also learn the application of the paint so you can upcycle old furniture easily,” says Nishi.
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(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)