SALT: THE GREAT MARCH Re-Contextualising Ajrakh Textile Traditions on Khadi in Contemporary Art and Craft

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Re-Contextualizing Ajrakh Textile Traditions on khadi in Contemporary Art and Craft


If we have the ‘khadi spirit’ in us, we would surround ourselves with simplicity in every walk of life. The ‘khadi spirit’ means illimitable patience. For those who know anything about the production of khadi know how patiently the spinners and the weavers have to toil at their trade, and even so must we have patience while we are spinning ‘the thread of Swaraj’. The ‘khadi spirit’ means also an equally illimitable faith. The ‘khaki spirit’ means fellow feeling with every human being on earth. It means a complete renunciation of everything that is likely to harm our fellow creatures, and if we but cultivate that spirit amongst the millions of our countrymen, what a land this India of ours would be! And the more I move about the country and the more I see the things for myself, the richer, the stronger is my faith growing in the capacity of the spinning wheel l. (Young India, 22- 9-1927)

 Overview: Salt: The Great March II is a sequel project to Salt: The Great March I which was exhibited at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi in Sept-Oct 2013

The Salt March series II and I explores salt as a symbol of non-violence. The project is inspired by the Gandhian theory of satyagrah – a challenge to ones own truth with stress on self-purification, self-examination and self-assessment. Satyagrah stimulates our conscience and soul searching for the upliftment of all (sarvodaya). These works further explore the practice of nonviolence, tolerance, peace and harmony through the narratives of swadeshi politics. The “Salt” series draws upon the history of India’s colonial past and Mahatma Gandhi’s 1930 Dandi March, which began the Salt Satyagraha and became an important part of the Indian independence movement.

The Salt March II -khadi is re-contextualized as a contemporary social movement visualized through art and traditional craft materials and processes, seeking out the possibilities of bringing the khadi spirit into our daily lives. If by spinning, weaving and wearing khadi, can the commitment to individual action bring about a sense of pride in our nation in the 21st century? Can such an action bring about nationalistic feeling and significant changes in our society?

The “Salt” series is a continuation of Jyoti’s earlier series, ‘Indigo Narratives (2008-14) that were inspired by Neel Darpan a literary text written by Deen Bandhu Mitra, 1860. The play is symbolic of an anti-colonial, nonviolence movement that took place in 1917-18, Gandhi’s first non-violence protest ‘champaran’ movement for indigo farmers in India.

Shelly Jyoti’s present body of work features site-specific khadi fabric installations including clothing, artworks utilizing Ajarkh textile traditions on khadi fabric and spoken poetry video film

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