Art By Heart: A community platform for artists and craft makers

At last, an outlet for artists and art lovers in Sydney’s Indian community.

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It was a steady stream of visitors at the tiny Westmead community hall that was hosting Art By Heart. By the end of the day, some 600 people had walked through the art and craft exhibition, buying up big time and enjoying the works on display.

A first of its kind in Sydney’s Indian community, the art and craft fair was a grassroots initiative led by jewellery designer Darshana Wadnere.

It brought together artists from the world of decoupage, origami, candle-making, clay flowers, ceramics, crochet, succulents and jewellery design, and at least four different styles of painting including Worli, Gond, Madhubani, rangoli board and contemporary.

While we have seen similar artisan-based businesses and home-based art and craft creators out in the community during our festive melas and more recently on Facebook groups, Art By Heart was the first time they all came together to exhibit under one large platform.

Art by heart organiser Darshana Wadhnere.
Art by Heart organiser Darshana Wadnere. (supplied)

“There are many extremely talented artists in our community, but art lovers do not have access to them,” Darshana told Indian Link. “There’s a clear disconnect; we needed a common platform to showcase our art and craft.”

Darshana misses the large-scale artisan exhibitions back home which are held regularly.

“Whichever part of India you come from, you’d frequent these exhibitions to enjoy and purchase beautiful and unique artware and merchandise.”

Wishing to reimagine the “exhibition”, Darshana put the word out on social media, and was floored by the response.

“Not only artists but volunteers came forward too, and we got help and advise from various sources.”

READ ALSO: Ratna Sarma: The art of understanding other cultures

Artists Sanjyot Firke, Shraddha Gupte, Shweta Doke and Vaishali Hingmire, became partners-in-crime, perhaps much-needed, as the 14 stalls were quickly booked. More requests for stalls had to be turned down. Some 250 people registered an interest to visit.

On the day however, 600 people rocked up.

They all walked out carrying bags – of some pretty good quality merchandise.

“Our feedback forms showed our patrons were delighted to see the variety and the high quality of art presented at the markets. They asked when the next market will be held, suggesting bigger venues to incorporate more stalls.”

For the exhibitors themselves, it was a satisfying experience for two solid reasons: one, each reported sales of 80-85%; and two, they had become happy members of a new art community.

Was it like the quintessential Indian “exhibition”? You could say so, but we’d prefer to give it an Aussie touch: the Rocks Market, community style.

As Sydney’s Indian community has grown, we’ve seen promising platforms emerge in the cultural scene for music, dance, theatre; in sport, and in literature to some extent. The art scene has thus far remained elusive as a large-scale community outlet – we can only hope Darshana’s early efforts to attenuate this, will pave new pathways.

Meanwhile, watch this space for the next event by Art By Heart.

READ ALSO: Julia Raath: ‘For a teacher of textiles, India is heaven’

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Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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