Of Sangeetha Rajesh's kalamkari patterns and prints
What started with a business of trading in handloom fabrics, turned into a Hyderabad-based brand, Kalamkari Festival by Looms, which could possibly be one of the only exclusive kalamkari showrooms in Hyderabad. The 42-year-old designer and founder of the label, Sangeetha Rajesh, talks to us about her kalamkari sarees, dress designs, and inspirations, ahead of her exhibition in the city.
Tulips & kolattam
Keenly interested in craft revival, Sangeetha uses hand-woven fabrics, vegetable dyes and hand-painted kalamkari art. “There are a few restrictions when it comes to colour, but I add brighter hues, some embroidery, and a few more colours to the primary shades using various pigments,” she informs. Majority of her designs are on tussar silks, kota cottons and chanderi, ikat weaves and Chettinad silks, which appeal to the younger crowd.
She works extensively with traditional motifs, which largely draw their inspiration from nature. These take form of kalamkari on the blouse and pallus. These include peacocks, doves, parrots, sunflowers and tulips. “The Meenakshi Amman temple have lovely kolattam dolls which were introduced in kalamkari by us. We also drew from the traditional kathak artists from Kerala’s mural paintings and rendered it in some of our saris,” Sangeetha informs.
Visiting the hamlets of Srikalahasti for the first time in 2011, and seeing the work done by artisans was a real eye-opener for the designer. “The richness and detail of kalamkari lies in the dexterity of the craftsmen, but the market is flooding with duplicate kalamkari these days. While the motifs are the same, they are computer-generated and printed. As a result, they are reasonably priced,” she elaborates. A kalamkari sari at Sangeetha’s studio takes about four days to create.
Having built her customer base through several exhibitions across the country, Sangeetha also brings outfits for kids in the city.