Here’s an article from our new partner producer, Mr. Tarun in Bangladesh. His father is a great artisan of Pottery, who has worked for the local traditional art and rural artisans during his whole life. Through seeing father’s work, passion, and life, Mr. Tarun also started to aim working with/for artisans.
Soon their products –handmade baskets made of natural materials- are going to join in our MING line-up.
Since one year back, I’ve been falling in love with their baskets and I am so proud to have him as a partner finally!
CWB India & Bangladesh Anna Iwasaki
Growing up smelling the clay
From my very childhood I saw my baba (name) Bishweshwar Paul’s love for creation. He is a renowned award winner potter who loved to mold a piece of clay and give a shape. He has magical fingers and tremendous knowledge. Despite of his nationwide recognition he never left his village, rather continued teaching others to help saving the profession faded away. I believe baba has been successful in his efforts. Hundreds of family in Barisal and also in many other regions continued practicing. Baba was successful advocating for them at national level. An endangered profession saved. I became a part of an extended family.
Preparing for the journey
It came automatically. I even didn’t notice when I became part this journey. When I was preparing for my graduation study, it became very clear to me that despite we were authentic, we were still far behind from the global trend. This understanding helped me to decide studying MFA in design.
The artisan sector is the second largest employer in the developing world, behind agriculture. Millions of people in developing countries around the globe—most of them women—participate in the artisan economy, practicing traditional crafts as a means to earn income and sustain their livelihoods. Like many other countries in the developing world, Bangladesh also has a competitive advantage in this sector because of its rich cultural traditions, diverse artisanal skills, and unique raw materials. In fact, developing countries today account for 65 percent of handicraft exports around the world. While these facts paint a powerful picture, the artisan sector still has a long way to go to reach its full potential as a sustainable source of income generation, employment, and economic growth for impoverished communities around the globe to support artisans and fair trade.
Building bricks over bricks
Sixteen years ago, I started working in a handicrafts producing organisation as a designer. It was a good start to work with artisans very closely in remote areas and to asses their working ability. I observed they were not happy with their earning. They were also bored with traditional type basket making years after years. I was also hungry for bringing a change. I thought if I could use textile dye to colour leaf and grass and make basket that might open up a big possibility for innovative design. I experimented, samples looked great and I finally introduced the process with my artisan. They were happy and encouraged to see them as they also saw its potential of different and trendy basket making. They also knew this will earn more for them.
It has been many years since then. In the mean time, I left my job, and started own initiative company where a group of dedicated women still continuing to quench their thirst with innovative products. They are now contributing towards the environment too, making baskets using recycle materials, plastic, cloth etc. I love to see their happy faces as they earn more and more as buyers have regular orders on those contemporary baskets.
Saving portions for the deserved
My initiative is a simple try for bringing change. Change in the lives of the poor rural artisans by providing them fair price of their product. I teach them better technics, encourage them to improve traditional skills and in return they teach me how to love and nurture the environment. It’s a win win game which shows us light to a sustainable future. Providing mentorship and guidance, I help my artisan feel stronger, more confident and in control on their lives. I try to improve their lives so they can take great care of themselves, their families and their communities.