Hunar Artisans at Eka Collective Bhopal
EKA is a communicators’ collective, based in Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This non-profit association works across central India on issues related to participatory communication and action.
Within EKA, HUNAR operates as an informal group of artists and designers interested in experimenting with cloth and traditional arts and crafts. Group members are women from underprivileged urban sectors of Bhopal, including girls from Muslim communities, who are learning vocational skills in sewing and cloth designing. Further, HUNAR artists are interested in the unique painting of the Gondi people of central India and expressions in various mediums including paints and clay.
HUNAR is as yet a small skills training unit gradually evolving thanks to the efforts of its members, some of whom are women survivors of violence. Apart from receiving socio-legal counselling support, the women are encouraged to learn new skills and engage in creative production processes to help them take the first steps towards becoming financially independent. By buying HUNAR products, you will be helping the group to gain skills, confidence to set their own life goals, and build their own identities. EKA will anchor HUNAR until the women’s groups are ready to take over independently.
HUNAR is slowly gaining in popularity due to its range of cotton bags and handmade notebooks that are favoured for workshops, meetings, training courses, and for gifting purposes, notably by associations. Currently, the group has a range of products including bags, skirts, patialas (women’s trousers), curtains, and cushion covers. They are further experimenting with block printing, screen printing on cloth and various surfaces.
ARTESANOS seeks to promote HUNAR’S development by distributing jute products, in particular bags. For now, however, the association only possesses a few donated, outdated sewing machines that are not adequate for stitching canvas or jute. Expanding production to items made of more robust fabrics would go a long way to ensure the group’s diversification. In Bhopal, more up-to-date sewing machines can be acquired for some CHF 100 each. ARTESANOS hopes to put ten such machines at HUNAR’S disposal, make first preorder of jute products, and thus contribute to sustaining the fragile livelihood and continued training of the association’s craftswomen.