….holding space for craft to continue, for the people who want to continue it.
NISHA SUBRAMANIAM has been working with traditional weaving and pastoral communities in Himachal Pradesh, India for more than a decade.
In 2010, Nisha came to know a number of the local women in the small village of Naggar, Himachal Pradesh. The women, who were often seen knitting, asked if anything could be done to sell the small accessories that they made.
Nisha first brought the knitted items to try to sell in the flea markets in Bangalore and thus, Kullvi WHIMS (Women of Himachal Self-help group) was born. Consisting of 9 women, the organization is based on the model of a women’s self-help group in the desert region of Kutch, Gujarat.
Nisha now coordinates small batch orders with international and domestic buyers, facilitates communication and feedback between the artisans and designers, and organizes skill building workshops for the women as well as exhibitions, with a goal of accessing international exhibitions in the future.
She visits the group two or three times a year with the hopes of helping Kullvi WHIMS to achieve independence in the future.
Nisha facilitates groups of design and architecture students to participate in social and cultural interactions with the women of Kullvi WHIMS.
These endeavours create a space for the women to teach enthusiastic young students their craft – such as handspinning, knitting, crocheting, and traditional weaving, which has not only helped to validate the women’s skills along with increasing their confidence, but also sets the stage to inspire the younger generation to learn these regional heritage crafts.
Though traditional links which existed between nomadic pastoralists and mountain communities have mostly disappeared due to the more urban landscapes and modern livelihoods, Nisha hopes to rejuvenate ties more appropriate to contemporary contexts between the pastoralists and the artisans through the material of indigenous wool that touches both these commnunities' lives.
Since June 2018, Nisha has been actively nurturing the collaboration between Kullvi WHIMS and Rani & Reine; her dedication and hard work is vital for this partnership, and we are eternally grateful to have her as our collaborator.
Parikshit Rao is an editorial + commercial photographer. His portfolio – with a focus on travel, food, interiors, portrait and documentary photography – is as diverse as his clients – including international creative agencies, local hospitality brands and cultural and literary journals alike. After a decade in the publishing and media industry, he now lives in the Kullu Valley pursuing personal projects within the mountains alongside commercial assignments across India.
In the Fall of 2020, Rani & Reine initiated a collaboration with Parikshit to document the artisans of Kullvi WHIMS. He produced a beautiful collection of images and dialogue with the artisans, documenting the women and their craft, which are featured on our website and instagram.
Visit Parikshit's Website