Sandhya Raman’s ‘To Stitch or Knot’ Exhibition at NCPA

Sandhya Raman, an award-winning costume designer, curator, and textile activist with an illustrious career spanning over three decades, is all set to enthral Mumbaikars with her exhibition ‘To Stitch or Knot’. The costume showcase will be held at the Dilip Piramal Art Gallery at the prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai from April 25-29, 2024. This exhibit is a celebration of Raman’s unparalleled contribution to the world of dance costuming, featuring 10 to 12 stunning costumes from her repertoire, elegantly displayed on mannequins, alongside an array of approximately 50 photographs, and 4 to 5 installations, providing the visitors with an immersive and enriching experience.  

Raman’s journey as a costume designer has been nothing short of extraordinary, having adorned the performances of iconic dancers such as Mallika Sarabhai, the late Astad Deboo, Aditi Mangaldas, Geeta Chandran, Malvika Sarukkai, Anita Ratnam, among many others.  “At To Stitch or Knot, an exhibition that chronicles my three-decade-long odyssey in the realm of dance costume design, visitors will have the opportunity to delve into the intricate relationship between textiles, nature, and the performing arts. From Bharatnatyam to Kathak, Sattriya to Kuchipudi, this exhibition celebrates the diverse tapestry of dance forms that have shaped my work,” says Sandhya Raman.

Inspired by the five elements and senses, the exhibition paints a vivid picture of Raman’s approach to costume design – where Earth meets texture, Fire intertwines with taste, Wind merges with smell through lighter fabrics, Sound resonates with water, and Light harmonises with space. “I emphasise the connection between dance and drape, fabric and form. Through this showcase, I will bring to light the unseen and the complex relationship between textiles and the senses, attempting to draw inspiration from the heritage of weaving,” Raman elaborates.

Costume plays an essential role in enhancing the overall visual appeal of a dance performance. It is one of the most important tools to build a connection between the performer and their audience, by settling the tone for the performance. Today, performers are increasingly focused on conceptual and abstract pieces. The role of the costume designer therefore becomes crucial in realising and translating this thought process. Despite this, design for dance remains a profession that has yet to gain significant recognition in India. In this regard, Raman expresses, “With more than 1500 design schools in India, most students tend to pursue fashion design due to its inherent glamour. However, artists are slowly recognising the importance of dance costuming which involves a great amount of understanding of the dance form, the ethos, the culture, the parameters and the boundaries of the field. I am confident that the younger generation will soon find meaning in it, inspiring a sea of change. My upcoming exhibition is a step in creating awareness in that direction.”

As an alumnus of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, and co-founder of Desmania Design, Sandhya Raman has established herself as a visionary in ‘Socially Responsible Design’. To support fundraising initiatives for children with autism, Raman has innovatively translated paintings by children on the spectrum into wearable art. Photographic glimpses from these productions will be featured as part of her upcoming exhibit. Raman has been conferred with the Stree Shakti Puraskar from the Government of India and the Creative Excellence Award from UNFPA, acknowledging her efforts in empowering women, craftsmen, and artisans.

In addition to the exhibition, Sandhya Raman will also host an interactive workshop on April 28, providing attendees with a rare glimpse into her creative process. Participants will have the opportunity to engage and interact with Raman as she shares insights, techniques, and anecdotes from her remarkable career, for aspiring designers and performing artists to explore their own artistic potential.

Sandhya Raman’s ‘To Stitch or Knot’ Exhibition at Dilip Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA, Mumbai:
Exhibition Dates: April 25-29. Free for all.
Workshop Date: April 28. To book please call +91 8879114939 /+91 8873913834 or register on Book My Show

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