The Poonchh Collection is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. With so many moving parts and so many points of interaction and departure…this collection was truly a labour of love. For anything else, I might have given up a long time ago. But then, like anything that has taken time, energy and effort…the satisfaction is huge 🙂
And with a huge part of the collection already sold out, I am happy to say that I will be able to help quite a few dogs 🙂
I want to share my journey with you.
It started as a small germ of an idea. What can I do to help? Write out a cheque? That would be a cop out and the easiest way to ‘give’ to a cause without actually doing any work. But, could my day actually afford time on the street as the team at www.strays.in were doing? No.
So the next step was to figure out a way to help in a method/ format only I could. What could I bring to the table? Paint? Auction a painting?
Easy enough. But not enough.
That is when a chance conversation with Rakesh Shukla ( founder of The Voice of Stray Dogs) on how to make the Indian Stray dog a hip and stylish statement, something to aspire to have…sparked an idea. And the Poonchh Collection started to take shape for me. I wanted to do something colourful, new and in essence very much ‘me’ in design sensibilities.
I was very conscious that I did not want to use any heartbreaking or gut wrenching imagery in this collection. There is enough of that to see around us. I wanted to create something that would be a joy to behold and a feast for the eyes. And as an artist, I also wanted to experiment and see in how many ways I could translate the concept into reality, while still not losing either commercial value, or artistic sensibility.
This collection also needed to be a conversation starter. I want more people to ask /to question, to read about the stray dog. And hopefully in the future ‘opt to adopt‘.
Keeping costs, time and money in mind, I had to come up with creative ways to make this collection actually come to life. And without help from my husband Supreet Singh and my friends Reza and Vinay Diddee, it would not have been possible.
I sat and cut, about 70 meters of fabric into 18 inch squares, to get them ready for screen printing. I waited patiently for samples to go back and forth between many vendors before quality and money could both be okay-ed.
The printing facility added to my woes, by NOT allowing women on the shop floor. This meant that, Supreet or Vinay, had to be present to get my work done. Printing happened in three places and the cushions, cases, bags in different places by different karigars ( skilled workers). The material was bought in different lots, at different times and again from different places.
The hand dying was done in a dingy little attic in a lost lane in Bangalore. And the wooden blocks were hand carved by master craftsmen.
I DID NOT haggle over money with anyone for the making of this collection. I wanted to keep everyone happy and satisfied, so that the ‘vibe‘ attached to each piece was positive. It did not make sense to me, to try and negotiate over a few rupees here and there, and then talk of helping the stray dog by giving a bunch of money away. Every piece has been hand made and ‘sampled’. And NOT made on a factory floor. In fact most of it has been made by small shops that have 2-3 karigars only.
The gold bags have been hand painted and the thread work done by me.
Why? Because then I can truly say that ‘I’ helped the cause. Not by remote control but by my blood, sweat and tears. And trust me there has been a lot of all three in the making of this collection.
I have to say, I met some wonderful people over the course of the three days of this exhibition. I also made a new friend in Kelly, a volunteer member of VoSD.
Thank you to everyone for making the Poonchh Collection a success. I know both Rakesh and Kelly join me in saying thanks from the doggies.