Our design team look towards India as a source of inspiration: from the incredibly talented artisans to its rich textile pattern heritage. Indian craftsmanship is such a strong part of our brand identity, and we continue to be influenced and educated by the Indian artisans we partner with. So much of our inspiration comes from translating ancient techniques into modern fashion, but today we look further afield at what’s happening in modern Indian art.
Meet two of the creatives behind India’s contemporary art scene, Rupi Kaur and Sumakshi Singh, helping to shine a spotlight on Indian culture, narratives and techniques in a thoroughly modern way.
Based in Toronto, Punjabi-Sikh creative Rupi Kaur has been dubbed the ‘modern day poet’. The 26-year-old garnered a cult-like following for her short poetry and prose showcased on social media. She rose to fame by sharing her short poetry in Instagram and Tumblr-friendly form, self illustrating these thought-provoking excerpts inspired by love, loss & female empowerment.
The act of writing and drawing go hand-in-hand for Rupi, who illustrates every one of her poems. With many of her poems being only a few lines long, she has managed to captivate a new generation of followers; breathing a new lease of life into the ancient art of poetry.
Growing up around her Indian family traditions of performing Sikh holy texts written in poetic verse, she practised and performed Indian classical music and spoken word from a young age. She also started drawing at the age of five when her mother handed her a paintbrush and said ‘draw your heart out.’ Self expression has always been a part of Rupi’s life, claiming her passion for poetry was passed down from her father’s love of holy Sikh scriptures.
to worry about
the sun and her flowers are here
- Rupi Kaur
What’s stronger than the human heart / which shatters over and over and still lives.
For a lot of Rupi’s work, she feels a cathartic sense of release as her work’s subjects are sometimes seen as provocative, exploring risky or taboo subjects. In a recent Guardian article, she describes her work as being raw and completely honest, not what traditional Indian culture is built around.
For South Asian women, you’re supposed to be quiet and not have those opinions
Starting to perform her poems on stage during university, her fan base grew from a small South-Asian community of friends and family to a worldwide online audience. With a growing popularity, she released a self-published collection of poetry and sketches called “Milk and Honey” in 2014, which became one of the most influential poetry books of the 21st century. With another book released in 2017 “The Sun and Her Flowers”, an international tour and a third book in the pipeline, Rupi’s creative journey looks like it’s only just beginning.
Cited as one of India’s “contemporaries to watch” by Vogue, Delhi based artist Sumakshi Singh is making waves in the Indian art scene with her delicate and intricate works of art. With an academic art background from universities in India and America, Sumakshi splits her time between teaching and nurturing emerging creative talent and exhibiting new artwork.
Known for her interactive installations and sculptures, her work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and almost all the top art venues in the world, including the Kochi-Muziris Biennale; Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon; and MAXXI Museum, Rome.
Not wanting to conform to any one medium, Sumakshi doesn’t want to be defined by a specific artistic style. Instead, the common theme to her work is its inspiration: Sumakshi builds ethereal and delicate worlds all inspired by her life and family memories.
I am not an artist who goes with a concept. Something just starts to happen, and then I start to understand why.
The flowers I made are not attached to the ground. I made sure that they levitate and hover, like dreams.
Known mostly for her intricate embroidered art, we picked work from her two most influential exhibitions: “In the Garden” 2017 and “33 Link Road” 2019, exhibited in galleries in Mumbai, New Delhi and London. Using only thread & wire, these installations were inspired by intimate family memories.
“In the Garden” was inspired by the hand-written letters her mother would send to her, full of pressed flowers from her childhood garden. She tells The Hindi in a recent interview, “I was trying to flatten out, archive, preserve and record the memories”, creating lace-like floral sculptures encased in glass bottles and veils.
“33 Link Road”, is Sumakshi’s most personal work to date, inspired by her grandparents’ home in New Delhi. Mapping out the intimate memories of their home, she depicts the architectural measurements down to the last detail by converting it into a life-size installation in white thread: giving it an emotional, dream-like and deeply personal feeling. Sumakshi wanted the viewer to feel a deep connection to her art, giving them an insight into her world and her upbringing.
The craftsmanship in Sumakshi’s artwork is exquisite, using her artistic training and extreme patience to create truly intricate and incredibly detailed textile sculptures. Most of her work is site-specific installation, taking anytime between two weeks to two months to finish one piece.
Currently working on new art concepts from her studio in Delhi, we can’t wait to see what’s next for Sumakshi. Watch this space!