Devrai Art Village is a non profit initiative to connect with nature and celebrate creativity. A core group of highly skilled Adivasi craftsmen and artists from the naxalite affected areas of Gadchiroli & Chattisgarh find a livelihood and a safe refuge here in Panchgani. The unique and distinctivtive style of our product range comes out through combinations of different mediums such as iron, brass, stone, wood, bamboo and fabric.
We believe in empowering craftsmen and not in doing charity.
Todays idea of "development" has broken the link which connects us to the whole. In modern times nature is commodified and relationships have turned into transactions. Devrai Art Village attemps to mend this broken link and make the process of creation a joyous experience.
1. To offer adivasi craftsmen a safe space to practice their craft away from their difficult and often Naxalite affected regions.
2. To enable them to induct and train apprentices, students and local people. This will be done through the creation of a training centre.
3. To facilitate their interaction with design schools and resource persons from other areas to enable a cross pollination of ideas.
4. To facilitate direct interaction of craftsmen with customers in order to obtain insights into the marketing and sale process.
5. To create an environment that offers opportunities to explore the linkages between indigenous art and nature.
6. To document adivasi culture, crafts and work processes to spread awareness and for use as teaching aids.
If I think of the beginning of inspiration for Devrai Art village, the old tree of Ficus Glomerata (Umbar) that stands in the middle of our land comes to my mind. Its spreading branches almost touching the ground create a natural cave of green dappled light. This magical space was an invitation to sit under the tree and soon a platform was created.
Art and craft work started after the monsoon of 2008 when 5 adivasi craftsmen under the guidance of Suresh Pungati, a much decorated adivasi artist from the Madhia tribe came to us. Suresh Pungati has a passion for enabling his community to progress and for his sincere efforts has been given ‘The Adivasi Sevak Puruskar’ by the state government. Brought up in Baba Amte’s ashram in Anandvan, he comes from the Naxalite hit district of Gadchiroli in northern Maharashtra where adivasis are often caught in the crossfire between the state and the insurgents. We welcome the youth as apprentices so that the traditional art continues with the younger generation as well. Now we have artisans from Chattisgargh joining us.
Devrai Art Village strives to empower the craftsmen by giving them new design ideas and marketing possibilities. More than that we seek to nurture a way of living where Nature is not looked upon as a mere resource but where plants, animals and humans are seen as interdependent and where art can reflect the sacredness of Nature! What we generally see of tribal culture is that which can be exhibited or sold. DAV is also striving to document and explore using the film medium, the tribal way of living, their beliefs and culture, their relationship with Nature which is fast changing.
Each artifact of DAV is born out of a cross pollination of ideas- between the old and the new, urban and the rural, truly Indian in spirit but universal in appeal. Devrai Rock Dhokra, is the latest feather in our cap for although Dhokra is an ancient art form, never has been its fusion with stone ever tried. This marriage of two mediums- of metal and stone has brought a new aesthetic dimension to this traditional art form that had its beginning in the Indus Valley Civilisation, dating back to 2000 B.C . Devrai Rock Dhokra could definitely find a place of pride in home décor, be it in the interiors or even in gardens. Another unique feature of Devrai art Village is that we can custom make products to the specific needs and desires of our clients.
A person who walks into Devrai Art Village in Panchgani gets to see not only the final product but also gets a feel of the processes that underlie it . In the true spirit of a ‘Devrai’ or a sacred grove we are trying to nurture a variety of plants , shrubs and creepers so that it offers a glimpse into a way of being where the man nature connect is not severed under the onslaught of modernism.
(Founder, Devrai Art Village)