Designer Kirtana Vasudevan, a senior student at The National Institute of Design (NID),
Ahmedabad, India, has been the creative anchor of this six month project. First, a feasibility study
was undertaken and in-depth research was done on certain crafts in Tamilnadu that had the
potential for use on stage. Artistes were identified and it was decided that the palm leaf and kora
grass would be the main materials used.
Gajaanana was the first of Arangham's dance productions in Project Kaushal where specially
designed hand-crafted props, made from palm leaves, were used. Long forgotten stories and
shlokas, connected to the theme of Ganesha, were collated to form a visual theme-board from
which ideas emerged. These rough concepts underwent many modifications in size, shape,
proportion and orientation to become refined two-dimensional articles while working in the field
with the artisans.
The techniques - knotting, braiding and weaving - which have been used in making each piece are
age-old and typical of Tamilnadu. These have been handed down through the generations by
people in the coastal areas. While the process was familiar to the crafts people, making the
elephant masks was a novel idea and appeared a difficult and daunting task.
In keeping with the visual tone of Gajaanana, bangles, bracelets and hair ornaments worn by the
Arangham Dance Troupe have also been created. Project Kaushal has created several other articles
for consumer needs like boxes, file folders, placemats and card holders.