Sri Lanka claims of having a proud heritage in terms of arts and crafts. This unique culture has helped Sri Lanka earn recognition in the world. Making of crafts has been an ancient art form and is applied to all most all spheres in the daily lives of people. There is an immense demand for these crafts from other countries. When one considers the individuals who are occupied with making artwork, it is evident that they are mostly destitute people from rural areas. They hardly receive acknowledgment nor are they felicitated for their special skills and artwork. Perhaps they lack the latest facilities to engage in their creations.
However, there is good news for this industry that is coming in the form of ‘ShilpaAbhimani-2018’ Presidential Handicraft Award Ceremony which is scheduled to be launched on September 11 (tomorrow) at the BMICH.The event is jointly organised by the Ministry of Industry & Commerce and National Crafts Council (NCC) and is expected to provide encouragement to these craftsmen and help them pursue their profession.The event will be held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen. The exhibition will conclude on September 16 (Sunday).
National Crafts Council (NCC)
The NCC is an institution which coordinates matters relating to crafts. The NCC was established by the Parliamentary Act No. 35 of 1982. Its ideals were promotion, development, fostering and preservation of handicrafts and the upliftment of the social and economic status of craftspersons.
The mission of the NCC is preservation, development, encouragement and promotion of local handicrafts with a traditional and cultural value and the enhancement of economic and social status of craftsmen.
During the past few decades, the NCC has initiated a host of various projects and programmes to preserve and develop handicrafts and ensure the future of handicrafts.
‘Shilpa Abhimani-2018’ Presidential Handicrafts Competition and Exhibition is the biggest event for handicrafts in Sri Lanka. This is an exhibition which helps value the creativity of the island’s craftsmen.
The NCC has hosted contemporary and innovative projects to felicitate the craftsmen by preserving and developing the handicrafts sector in Sri Lanka.
The ‘Shilpa Abhimani’ National Handicrafts Exhibition is a celebration of handicrafts heritage and is held annually. The exhibits capture the hearts and minds of visitors and keeps the venue alive. Demonstrating their crafts are done through workshops, marketing their designs and interactive buyer seller meetings are added features of the event.
The crafts categories are clay, leaves & grass, Dumbara designs, cane and bamboo, metal, jewellery related crafts, masks and puppets, carved masks, musical instruments, textiles and textile based batik and lace, lacquer works and parasols (Sesath), wood based crafts, leather crafts, stone based crafts, traditional paintings and sculptures, coconut/ kitul/ talipot/ palmyra related miscellaneous crafts and souvenirs.
Purpose of ‘ShilpaAbhimani’
Speaking to the , NCC Chairperson Heshani Bogollagama said that the NCC had begun organising programmes with the intention of honing the skills of nearly 26,000 craftsmen in the country who are registered under the NCC.
“Conducting this type of training, providing them with rare raw materials, giving them equipment necessary for their crafts and marketing facilitation are done through these programmes,” she explained.
She said that the purpose of organising ‘Shilpa Abhimani-2018’ was to motivate the local craftsmen and give value to their creations. She added that this is the only exhibition which provides opportunities for craftsmen, who are spread across the country, to show their talents and be felicitated.
During this National Handicrafts Exhibition, exhibits from 54 fields of handicraft classified under 20 basic sections will be on display. Gold Awards are presented for exhibits falling under the traditional and modern segments that preserve tradition. In addition financial awards and certificates will be given to craftsmen.
The NCC Chairperson said that since some issues existed in the fields of Arts and Crafts and the marketing industry in Sri Lanka, the exhibition would offer and opportunity for the local craftsmen to directly present their products for the customers.
“110 stalls have been put up for the craftsmen to exhibit their products like silver jewellery, wooden masks, batik, coir products, intricate lace-work, wood carving, lacquer work, musical instruments and ceramics.
It is noteworthy to mention that Sri Lanka Exports Development Board would conduct educational programmes on behalf of the local craftsmen to help them find the ways and means to export their products, capture international market and develop the economy of the country. It is fitting to admire the initiative of NCC and the Ministry of Industry & Commerce to take steps to uplift the local craftsmen, who are isolated in the society. This would provide them with the facility to master their products and enter the international arena of crafts.