In February 2016, an international team of experts was invited to evaluate a project  in 10 artisan villages of West Bengal. How had the support received affected their life and their art? What had to be done during the next phase?


The Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise, Government of West Bengal is partnering with UNESCO to establish 10 Rural Craft Hubs in the state. 3000 crafts persons are covered by the project. The project aims at developing strengthening creative entrepreneurship at grass roots, helping the rural artists to reach out to the global market, strengthening livelihood of handicraft artists, and making the craft villages as cultural tourism destinations.


Helene Tremblay’s team visited the wooden masks carvers of Kushmandi.

Upon our arrival, all wood carvers, were eager to mention the recognition they have received. Not any recognition but the recognition from their neighbours and community. What were they doing all this time carving wood on their veranda? Now after 15 and 25 years, their community realized, it was art.

People came to the village to see their work, they were going to fairs and bringing in income. Suddenly they became a little more important to every one. Recognition for an artist, is as necessary as breathing fresh air. Artist create for their art to be seen.The wood carvers can now  be proud of who they are and the work they do.Their body language quickly confirmed us that they had been empowered and dignified.

They spoke warmly, heartedly and with gratitude of the learning they are receiving from the workshops. These are most important to them. They had discovered, they had learned, they had travelled within India and one had received a price from Unesco and travelled to Paris. We are travellers all of us and we know, what eye opening this is, to one person.

A clean village, (we saw garbage and wondered about their capacity of getting rid of garbage and keep the village clean). In a beautiful courtyard and a welcoming family, the first artists we encountered were the sons of the Guru Sankar Sarkar, Tulu and Nandi.

It’s an adventure, it’s awakening, it’s human