Thank you all for the appreciation received for Patinam collection so far. The collection is still in progress and new pieces are being added every week. I will write about them once the first edition of the collection is complete. For today’s post, I would like to share my experience of presenting this collection at the Press Institute of India.
Madras week at the Press Institute of India
The Press Institute of India (PII-RIND) that is situated at Taramani in Chennai had hosted a series of programmes during Madras Week this year from August 21-25. I was lucky to be a part of the celebrations and got to present my Patinam collection on the final day. The PII-RIND is an Institute that trains working journalists and brings out esteemed journals like Vidura, Grassroots and the RIND. Mr. Sashi Nair, Director and Editor of the Institute is one of the key proponents of the Madras day celebrations in the city. On 25th, the last day of celebrations at PII, there was a lecture on the magic of textiles of the Madras Presidency by Mrs. Sreemathy Mohan, a textile enthusiast. She had invited me to present my collection of jewelry that included some of the textiles in the presentation before her lecture.
Though the last time that I exhibited my pieces was in Feb 2017 at NIFT, it was just five pieces that too as a part of a larger art exhibition. But this time it was different. It was a display presentation and not an exhibition or sale. The venue was the inside of an office where the ambiance is formal and not artsy. It was also small with a crowded backdrop. To make my pieces stand out, I draped the tables with silk sarees. I used handloom sarees in Arakku (deep scarlet), blue and peacock green to showcase the splendor of Tamil Nadu. To make sure that the pieces stood out from the background I thick cardboard in Ivory Beige. A Plastic tumbler wrapped with fabric strips held my business cards.
I wrapped my old neck forms in cheap muslin (Rs.35 or $0.5 per metre) to personalise them. As with my previous exhibitions here too, I used old desktop calendars (also furnished with muslin) as display props. I contrasted these with a neck form and calendar in black. The center structure was made by one of my students – Sajith N for his Visual merchandising class a year ago as a Mobile phone display. The structure, came in quite handy in displaying jewelry as it could be dismantled and rearranged according to the items that I had.
I knew that I had only 20 minutes for setup so I tried to pack items in such a way that they be displayed fast. My mom’s old wooden jewelry box can in handy. It is a fascinating octagonal structure with three compartments (hidden by the blue fabric in the picture). The bottom was lined with velvet with satin straps and the top half houses a mirror. It could house bangles, a couple of earrings, a choker, a long necklace with pendant and a waist belt (oddiyanam). I remember playing with it for numerous hours as a kid. The insides are in quite a bad state now and I wish I knew how to repair and restore it.
As I was in a hurry to setup, I forgot to take good pictures of the entire setup before the presentation. Whatever you see is during or after the presentation so a lot of pieces are astray as they were moved around by the audience. I decided not to use my banner as it took attention away from the work. Instead, I added two of my moodboards with my branding to add value to the talk. You can see one with the picture of the coromandel coast behind the display.
Presentation at the Press Institute of India
The Presentation at the Press Institute of India was a unique experience. I was given a 30-minute slot to begin with where I could explain the story behind the collection to those present there. I spoke about my inspiration, memories attached with different pieces and historical references (Chintz, Real Madras Handkerchief etc). Stay tuned for the next post to learn how this collection came to be.
The audience comprised of several members of the press (newspaper and bloggers), researchers, socialities and textile enthusiasts. However, I spoke only for 10 minutes and spent rest of the time being an observer as the audience interacted with my pieces. I answered questions and took down suggestions from the sidelines.
This was almost a jury style presentation that we follow as end term evaluation at my college. It was a surrealistic experience for me. As an individual (designer), it is hard to come across constructive feedback that too from a sampling of a wide cross section of the society, all at the same time. But this interesting method enabled me to understand the response to the collection on a more one on one basis. Fortunately, I got about another 15 minutes, at the end of the lecture to interact with those who joined us late and presented once again.
I will admit that it was a tremendous amount of work for an hour’s showcase. But it was worth it. It was a new, unique and interesting experience for me that brought about a lot of exposure for me and my work. Though I sold just one piece at the venue, that too to a dear friend and fellow beader, I met a lot of interesting people. who helped me build up my brand’s image. How? I’ll tell you (rather show you) in the next post.
Do tell me in the comments – have you ever done such talks or presentations of your work. If so what have you learned from them? Please share your experience in the comments.
I hope you found it interesting