On World Heritage Day, Vedanta Aluminium, launched an online gallery promote handicraft items made by local artists from communities in its operational areas. The online gallery showcases artisanal pieces of Dhokra metal work and Saura paintings for purchase. The online gallery can be accessed at https://vedantaaluminium.com/sustainability/social-impact/promoting-art-culture/.
Dhokra is an exquisite metalworking art form that dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization and has been a part of India’s rich handicraft legacy for nearly 5,000 years. However, it was becoming a fading art in Kankeri village (Kalahandi district, Odisha) where the skill of the craft was passed down through the generations and was limited to making rudimentary trinkets, which fetched the artisans’ measly earnings. This had forced many artisans to give up Dhokra craft and migrate to other states to work as construction labourers. To revive this craft in Kankeri village, close to its plant, Vedanta Aluminum facilitated training programs in contemporary designs using traditional techniques, provided the initial seed capital for procuring metal and raw materials, and organised exhibitions and art shows to create market linkage opportunities, enabling artisans to sell their art pieces at a better price.
Similarly, the initiative intends to promote indigenous tribal art form of ‘Saura’ people from Odisha, who draw inspiration for the art from nature and their own way of life. The exquisite art form was first painted on the walls of homes, showcasing unique motifs depicting daily life, celebrations, animals, farmers, elements of nature, gods, natural spirits, and their ancestors.
To preserve this ancient art form, which had begun fading in the face of modernity, Vedanta Aluminum is working with local artists to hone their skills, scale up their work, tap into new markets and carve a remunerative livelihood model. The company is also training the youth at a training programme for school students in Saura art. At the Make In Odisha Conclave 2022, Saura artisans showcased their skills.
Working with the state government through the Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS), Vedanta Aluminium is helping Dhokra & Saura artists in the physical display of their products in government-run physical galleries and exhibitions. This partnership is also helping the artists access monetary grants given by the government to support artisans. This has also improved their quality of life by bringing their plight to the notice of the district administration, who then invested in infrastructure development and making available required amenities for the people.