See the work of Silpinwita Das here.
Silpinwita Das came of age as an artist in Santiniketan, in a landscape she describes as “red soil, and meadows of lush green paddy fields, where rows of chhatim trees and palms charmed me from the very beginning.” As daughter to the famous textile artisan Ajit Kumar Das, she claims him as her first inspiration: “So, it was my father who held my hand and took me a long journey towards another parallel universe where less is more. He encouraged me to be a part of the making. I am an admirer of his work and still learning from him.”
Silpinwita Das has learned well and has taken the art of painting on cotton and silk with natural dyes in an entirely different direction than her father. She speaks in her own artistic voice.
As she describes her way of working “Careful handling of the whole process is needed to get the best results. We use handspun, handwoven cotton, or Matka silks. We used to get Myrobalan, Madder, Catechu, alum, all the natural dyes from the local market. Seasonal fruits and flowers are an important part of our work. We never throw out Pomegranate skin after eating the fruit, we never throw out the marigold flowers after we have offered them to God, because they are the source of our colours. Sometimes we even grow our own marigolds and turmeric.
“So, I have grown up with all these, they are not unusual for me, I am into the process of magical happenings. A whitish flower “Seuli” can give us bright yellows, but, red rose isn’t going to give us red. It’s an amazing thing to deal with. I have learnt the techniques of dyeing and painting entirely from my father and can prepare the colours for my own paintings as well. Although I have a recipe book, sometime tiny little details make a huge difference. When he points these things out, I note them down carefully.
Silpinwita Das received the UNESCO-WCC Award of Excellence in 2016 for her hand painting with natural dyes on cotton. She has participated in Indigo Sutra in 2017 and the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe in 2019.
Silpinwita’s work runs under the label ‘HARIDRA.’ In Sanskrit, “haridra” means yellow, one of the basic and primary colours. Yellow is the colour of sunlight and is associated with warmth and spirituality. Each work is unique, distinct and entirely hand made.