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Shilpa Sangha

Located in the Ranti village of the Madhubani district, Bihar, Shilpa Sangha, was born of the Asian Heritage Foundation's Jiyo!, a programme for sustainable livelihoods through cultural industries, funded by the Japan Social Development Fund and the World Bank, and supported by the Government of Bihar. Active since 2008, the Sangha is a self-managed cluster level institution that presently comprises of approximately forty, skilled women artists, who have been trained in the art of Madhubani painting. The members, who collaborated with Pratik Prabhakar on the project here, are Sarda Kumari, Mahalaxmi, Narama Jha, Sudha Devi, Babita Karn, Bandana Karn, Rekha Devi, and Baby Das.

In a context where Madhubani painting has been substantially devalued due to its ubiquitous presence as a 'low quality, high quantity' commodity, and artists dependent on middlemen to market their products are earning a pittance from their work, the Sangha presents an alternative format. Sourcing and pricing are undertaken collectively, ensuring economies of scale and preventing exploitation. Working with designers, they have streamlined their production systems, as well as created a series of innovative products forthe urban consumer, that combine contemporary design with traditional forms and techniques - modular wallpapers, painted textiles, tables and home accessories, as well as bespoke stationary. They also continue to create works for the local market.

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