Behind every doll there is a story

It was not just an exhibition of dolls. This recent event in Bengaluru also conveyed the story behind these handcrafted figurines.

A colourful exhibition showcasing dolls, took place from December 15th to 19th at 1 Shanthi Road. The main organiser of this exhibition was Vishakha from the Craft Studio, who has experience in the theatre and craft field. Other organisers were Nandini, Chandra, Sushila and Shashikala. Besides being just a showcase and sale of dolls, the exhibition served as a platform for discussion and creative interactions on topics related to craft, games, theatre and storytelling.

The overall aim of the exhibition according to Vishakha was to support the craft, add an additional facet of identity to the dolls and lay emphasis on the importance of dolls, role play and theatre on children’s development and self image.

The dolls were hand stitched and made out of materials such as straw and plastic containers. Pic: Meghna Raghunathan.

The inauguration of the exhibition was held on December 15th and on the 16th, the sale and explanation of the stories behind each doll. The dolls were hand stitched and made out of materials such as straw and plastic containers. Each doll has its own identity and a story attached to it and some even had poems and songs written for them. The craftswomen, Prema and Prabha are from a rural background and have no formal training in doll making but both have made dolls out of scrap in their childhoods.

Prabha, however joined a formal clay unit at the age of sixteen and made jewellery with the Craft Studio. Even though she has only been making dolls for the last four months, her work has unique themes associated with it and she said that the doll making process carried great emotional value for her and it made her extremely happy.

Prema has no experience in formal handiwork but made scrap dolls as a child. On December 17th, Madhu Shukla facilitated a discussion on the importance of games and theatre in ones childhood. Madhu is from Makkala Jagriti, an organisation which provides learning centres for children.  The emphasis of the discussion was games.  The discussion consisted of about 20 women from different backgrounds who all spoke about the influence of games on their lives.

Madhu said that the “games we played say so much about how we are today” and said that these games “do away with external pressure and help children to shed all these layers” which are built due to pressure on studies by students and teachers. The focus of the discussion was that with the emergence of television and the internet, games which are vital to social development and “self image” are taking a backseat.

Madhu said that what was more important than the final doll was the story song and process associated with it. Madhu who has a background in theatre talked about how theatre games and exercises “shed inhibitions through spontaneous interaction.” She laid further emphasis on the importance of theatre of self esteem and social development.

On the evening of the seventeenth a video was screened which documented the doll making process. On Friday the 18th the Crafts Studio team conducted a workshop for adults on Dolls in storytelling and Saturday morning was a small play on witches and wizards for children based on the dolls.   ⊕

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