On a recent visit to Bombay I was privileged to visit the home of eminent quilting artist, textile collector and author of Godharis of Maharastra, Geeta Khandelwal with Judy Frater and a group of artisan-designers from Kutch and Karnataka. The exhibition of Bhujodi and Bagalkot weaves and Suf and Lucknow embroideries (I have written about the project in a previous post) had finished the day before and there was a free morning before everyone had trains to catch home. The idea was for the artisans to experience the home of the kind of customer who buys their textiles, to further their market knowledge and have a first hand insight, which is usually difficult for the artisans living in isolated rural areas.
Geeta is also a former advisory board member for the International Quilt Study Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska and ran a business collecting and selling quilts. Her interest in textiles began at an early age and she developed a high level of skill in needlework, patchwork and quilting, and other textile techniques which she continues to experiment with. Geeta showed us some samples of natural dyeing using shibori techniques, as well as some quilts which she had produced as part of community projects. She conducted a workshop at the Prince of Wales Museum during which members used appliqué and stitch on a square of fabric to express their hopes for the new government (just as Modi was elected prime minister). Each square was then stitched together into a quilt that was on display temporarily at the Museum.
For the lavishly illustrated and well-documented Godharis of Maharastra, Geeta explored and documented the living quilt traditions of villages and towns in Maharastra. Her home reflects her varied and extensive career, her imagination and creativity and her warm and joyful personality.