Sarees of Memory is an initiative that was born in collaboration with Malvika Singh, publisher of ‘Seminar’ and a lifelong patron of handloom sarees.
Malvika Singh shared nine, intimate memories that manifest her relationship with traditional Venkatagiri sarees. These vignettes trace the life and times of this saree as it moved from one generation to the next, delicately traversing space and occasion. This initiative attempts to archive the fusion of memory and imagination, reflecting on the sensibilities of those who played a crucial role in shaping the contemporary, post Independence history of textiles in India.
Venkatagiri has had a fine weaving tradition for over six centuries. In recent times the traditional cotton sarees of Venkatagiri have morphed into a lesser quality product, using inferior quality of cotton and gilt metal yarn (zari), the two primary materials that are essential to the structure of this textile. Rather than lead the market as these textiles did in the past, the modern crop of Venkatagiris are being led by what the weavers believe are the demands of the market. Delicate motifs have mutated, changing shape and size, creating disproportionate patterns that have engulfed the entire length and landscape of the saree. This project attempts to reintroduce the essence of a Venkatagiri saree, through interventions in material and design, using Malvika Singh’s memories as the guiding force, reinforcing that memory by also studying our in-house collection of textiles to restate and recast the traditional, feel, look, weight of cotton, of silver and gold, combining to create the translucent beauty of the Venkatagiri as our grandmothers knew this genre to be.
Sarees of Memory celebrates and salutes the Venkatagiri saree.