We have all marveled at the intricate and stunning crafts that are made in Nepal and dot the numerous temples and monasteries around the country. But have we ever thought about who makes it? How is it made? The exhibition Treasure of Nepal, which is curated by Gary Wornell in Nepal Tourism Board, aims to answer those questions. Or at least get people interested in asking such questions.
Though we have a rich history in crafts, not a lot has changed in terms of how such objects are made in centuries. The artists still use the same tools that have been used by their forefathers, and often make them in similar humble surroundings. However, with significant changes in Nepal, the new generation is opting out of following their forefathers’ practices and footsteps. New technologies that have been introduced, has slowly been making the need to work with their hands using traditional techniques absolute. Lack of opportunities in this sector, and in Nepal in general, have resulted in the new generation choosing a different career path or migrating to different countries to try and make a living. Thus, the knowledge that have been solely handed down from one generation to another, has been slowly forgotten. This change in lifestyle has created a necessity to start recording and raise awareness regarding people who are currently making such crafts, and the traditional way to make them. This exhibition through photographs, written documentation, video and physical objects hopes to raise awareness of this issues and preserve it for the future generation. The exhibition hopes to give a unique perspective to Nepal’s cultural heritage while also celebrating it and the crafts people who have kept it alive till now.
The Treasure of Nepal exhibition was open to the public and began on 4:00 PM on 22nd of March. Since the exhibition was held in the courtyard of Nepal Tourism Board, many people braved the possibility of rain to view this exhibition; and they were not disappointed. The courtyard contained vivid pictures documenting Nepali artisans and their lives, and the inner lounge area of the Nepal Tourism Board hosted remarkable crafts made by the very people Gary had documented. From Thangka paintings to large metal sculptures there were many crafts that showed the talent and richness of Nepali craft. As a part of the exhibition there was also a four-minute documentary showing the stories of craftsmen in their workshops. While talking to one of the many guests of the event Gary Wornell mentioned that though he is interested in Nepali crafts he is “more interested in the lifestyles of the artist”. This statement is clearly reflected in his pictures that draws the views in the lives of the subject. As noted by Sangeeta Thapa one of the curator of the Kathmandu Triennale and the founder and director of the Siddhartha Art Gallery this is the “ first insightful archiving of the artisan of Kathmandu”.
The exhibition also had a small stall selling different artisan products to fund-raise for the exhibition.