For the past two days, a collection of stories about the people engaged in making and sustaining India’s age-old art and craft traditions has been occupying pride of place on the Google Arts Culture website and app. Called Crafted in India the virtual museum of narratives about India’s artisans was launched in Delhi on Monday.
This includes virtual exhibits from 22 different collections, including exhibits from the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum and the JD Centre of Art in Bhubaneswar, collections from the digital publication Border Fall, Museum of Art and Photography in Bengaluru, as well as the Indian Museum in Kolkata . But the principal partners for the Crafted in India initiative are Incredible India, the tourism campaign of the Government of India; and Dastkari Haat Samiti, a national association of craftspeople from around the country.
The launch saw Amit Sood, Senior Director of the Google Arts Culture, apologise about not knowing Hindi multiple times while alternating between English and Hindi. Having flown into the country in the wee hours of that morning, Sood also declared that he hadn’t fully prepared this presentation beforehand, fumbling with names of crafts (he repeatedly called the bell metal casting from Payyanur in Kerala, “ball metal”, and he mispronounced and glossed over the words ‘telia rumal’, a weave from Puttapaka in Telangana) that appear prominently on the Crafted in India section.
A clutch of artisans whose stories are featured in the exhibit, were present at this launch, which also saw Prahlad Singh Patel, the Minister for Culture and Tourism; Jaya Jaitly, President of the Dastkari Haat Samiti; and Meenakshi Sharma, Director General of Tourism.
Guess That Craft, an “interactive” exhibit within Crafted in India, is a clever use of Google Art Culture’s incredible picture zoom capability, overlaid with text. Scroll once, and a close up detail of a certain craft comes with a question-cum-clue. Scroll once more, and the zoomed out high quality image is shown, along with a brief few lines about the art form, and hyperlinks leading to the exhibits within this series.This includes Purulia masks from West Bengal and Channapatna toys from Karnataka.
In addition to the well-known photo quality of the exhibits on Google Arts Culture, the bite-sized videos on Crafted in India, which follow the lives of people behind crafts such as leather puppetry from Andhra Pradesh, or the sari weaving from Banaras are well-produced highlights.
This new exhibit also incorporates an ‘explore by colour’ feature, wherein a colour palette is laid out on the top of the screen. You can click on a hue that catches your eye, and all images within the Crafted in India exhibit that fall in that spectrum are before you. You can click on each to learn about its details.