Bamboo brilliance: Exhibition celebrates the craft in traditional and contemporary contexts

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From intricately woven decorative pieces for the drawing room to soft-textured mattresses for the bed, or comfortable lounge chairs to toy horses for children, the versatility of bamboo as a material gets underlined at the ongoing ‘Bamboo: A Way of Life’ exhibition here. The exhibition by Sandeep Sangaru, currently underway at the sixth Serendipity Arts Festival, showcases traditional as well as contemporary aspects of bamboo that is not merely a means of earning livelihood in tribal communities across India but also a “profound way of life”.

“This project is about showcasing bamboo and its versatility as a material and how it can be taken into the future as an everyday material rather than being a very decorative material that people look at in the contemporary world. These days a lot of people have been experimenting with it and pushing the material’s boundaries to take it to the next level in its natural form,” Sangaru told PTI.

Through a dynamic collaboration between skilled craftspeople and bamboo aficionados, the project seeks to breathe new life into the art of bamboo craftsmanship and foster a deeper connection between individuals and the eco-friendly material. Sangaru also busted common misconceptions about working with the material, including the ones suggesting that it “might rot in the open” or “get eaten by insects”.

“Bamboo as a material is stronger than wood, it has better tensile strength compared to steel. And the same potential has been showcased in different forms in this curation, to touch and feel, and understand the physical aspects of the material,” he said. The curation features contemporary items such as lighting, furniture and even a bicycle, as well as everyday products that have traditionally been used by tribal communities in the northeast, including a variety of fish traps, loin loom or backstrap loom, canopies, baskets, and other furniture.

“This curation is about showcasing different aspects of bamboo through structures, through contemporary smaller products like lighting and furniture, and at the same time putting the traditional work that has been developed by generations of people,” Sangaru added. The exhibition has been put together with the collaboration of designer and furniture studios, including Rajeev Wind, La, Mianzi, QX Design, Thumb Impressions, Studio Aro, and Woven Threads. It will culminate with the Serendipity Arts Festival on December 23.

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