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Home > City Resources > Arts and Antiques > Lifescapes in Kutch

Photographer John VettehThe earthquake that hit Gujarat might have faded away from our memories, but people in and around Bhuj are still trying to reconstruct their lives and bring back their tradition. Known for its familiar Mutva, jet, leather, soof embroidery, Ahir, mirror work shawls, kapads, torans and pottery, Gujarat has rich culture and art. But are we aware of the plight of this art and the artisans after the earthquake? It killed several skilled craftspeople, uprooted their frugal homes, destroyed their workplaces, ruined their goods and caused losses beyond belief.

Gujarati old lady caught by Vetteh's cameraEven though we have done nothing for the salvaging and preserving of traditional Gujarati art, which we can proudly claim as a part of our heritage, photographer Basu John Vetteh has tried his best to catch the rich tradition of Kutch (Highly effected place in the recent earth quake) through his camera. Vetteh is now displaying his rare photographs all over the country, which he took just before the disaster happened.

As part of the display, he recently conducted a photo exhibition called 'Lifescapes in Kutch' done by him in the twin cities. He held the two day exhibition at Apollo Hospitals and Taj Residency respectively. A former chief design engineer from IIT Madras, Vetteh has used his hobby of photography for charitable ends by donating his talent, time and tireless effort through 200 photographs taken in April 2000 as part of a craft documentation project consisting of highly skilled craftsmen and women creating traditional embroidery, jewellery, metal and wood work. These frames effectively convey the simple lifestyles of the colourful and talented rural folk of Kutch. So much so, it is evident that Vetteh was deeply moved by his subjects and his respect and admiration is noticeable in the faces of the people and the details of their very existence.

Photographs on displayThese photographs were put up for sale for Rs. 24,000 for a set of three and the proceeds will go directly to the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, Bhuj, an N.G.O of 7000 rural women. They in turn would help re-establish one craftswoman and provide support for one year. "It makes a difference when you know that the money you donate is being used for the right purpose and you know by name and face the person you have personally helped," says the photographer.
-Krishna Chaitanya Karanam.

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