UAE family promotes works of unsung artists hit by pandemic

In the past four months, www.artscrafts.co has helped more than 100 lesser-known artists.

Abu Dhabi resident Anil Kejriwal and his family, moved by the plight of unsung artists affected by the pandemic, launched an online platform to promote their works.

In the past four months, www.artscrafts.co has helped more than 100 lesser-known artists from India, Palestine, Jordan, Morocco, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries showcase their works.

Kejriwal is not an artist, but the director of Jindal Saw Gulf in Abu Dhabi. He is a philatelist with a collection of 200,000 stamps. It was a painting gifted by a friend and a casual query about the artist and her dismal state that shocked Kejriwal into action.

“A lady from a remote village in Bihar had made that beautiful Madhubani painting,” he said. “Amid the pandemic, she was out of work and struggling to survive. Initially I transferred some money to her. Later, I realised there will be many affected artists like her who are neither recognised nor get the money they deserve. While paintings are sold here starting from Dh10,000, unknown names do not even get Rs1,000 to Rs5,000 in India. I strived to change that. I also wanted to avoid middlemen, who take home all the profit.”

A discussion with his wife Madhu and daughter Khushi led to the idea of creating a website in May to promote artists. “Khushi came up with the name and design elements of the website,” said Kejriwal. “She started connecting with other artists using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Whenever we find a buyer or a customer, we would route it to the artists. Madhu and Khushi take care of coordination and follow-ups with artists. We also formed a WhatsApp group of artists to share their work.”

What started as a small initiative with one artist has been able to gather more than 200 artists, sculptors and photographers using the platform to showcase their works. And the aim is to connect more than 1,000 in a year.

Noted Padma Shri awardee and painter Tilak Gitai, who is based in Rajasthan, and Girish Pant, Dubai-based Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardee, are patrons of this platform.

To mark the occasion of India’s 75th Independence Day, an online competition is under way where people can vote for the best work. Paintings are based on five topics: Indian culture, festivals, dances, freedom struggle and monuments. And there are cash prizes to be won.

Pant said: “The winners will be announced on August 16 by the Consulate-General of India. There are bigger plans afoot to mark the ‘Year of 50’ with similar events. We are also looking at making a presence felt at the Dubai Expo.”

author

Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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