Fashionable Watches

Chanda Shroff, Rolex Laureate, 2006

Chanda Shroff, Rolex Laureate, 2006


My attitude when faced by problems
is to treat it like a game or a challenge. The fun is finding the solution. Kutch is a land of drought,
cyclones and earthquakes. When they occur the suffering is severe. The women use vibrant colours
in their embroidery to counter the harshness of life. When I first came,
the conditions were terrible. The people had no hope
of standing on their own two feet or improving their lives. They were desperately poor. But embroidery came to their aid. I have stitched it up to keep it clean. The art of embroidery
is woven into the fabric of life. The nomadic women who live under the stars
and roam the desert are surrounded by thorny cacti, so they use motifs that resemble thorns. It all began here in this village
with only 30 women, but when news spread,
letters arrived from many villages saying: the women of our village
live in great hardship. Please help us. Gradually it grew to 114 villages. This network covers
more than 500 kilometres. – When Chanda comes it is like the arrival
of a beacon of light. – At first the women thought
this was easy work for a quick profit and quality did not matter. I soon put a stop to that attitude. Then they understood that quality work would achieve a high status
and a high price. Some women live in remote villages
and never leave them, so if they cannot come to us,
we visit them. We bring our collection of masterpieces to inspire them
and awaken their creativity. Once, each community believed
only they could create real beauty but when they saw
what other communities had done they were astonished
that others could do better than them, so they asked me to teach them
how to do it themselves. The Rolex Award will help us record
the intricate detail of these masterpieces and the life stories
of the many craftswomen, so that neither the art,
nor its soul, will be lost. For 37 years what I have observed is the blossoming of these women’s
dignity and self-confidence. They learned that
they could earn their own living. Our aim is to involve even more villages so these skills are passed on to future generations. Rolex
Awards for Enterprise


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