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Nilufar's passion for needlecraft

Nilufar Mohaimen loved sewing and cutting since the age of six, having picked up the skill from her mother and elder sister, like most other women who make garments and other embroidered gift items.

She picked up more complicated stitches from friends and acquaintances. She does not export abroad, but sends items like embroidered cushion covers as overseas gifts. She does her work on bed linen, embroidered wall hangings in minute multicoloured cross stitch.

The designs are from books she has from overseas or Indian ones which are available in the market. Her finely worked on swishing saris, with exotic work on borders, body and “anchal” are very much in demand by her acquaintances, friends and relatives.

Like many wives, Nilufar works from home. She and her niece, go to schools and other outlets, in search of women with time in their hands. She gives samples of work to be done, guides the women with time in their hands, like tutors. Sometimes pliant husbands carry the samples of cloth, threads, sequins, beads, glass etc. These understanding men, ready to play the knight-in-shining-armour, carry back the payment for the ladies with needlecraft skill. At times, eager hands in the Geneva Camps also agree to take orders, being guided and instructed by Nilufar -- who is like some travelling specialist in needlecraft.

Women don't opt for many saris, Nilufar says. “Working women prefer to wear 'shalwar- kameez'. They have embroidery, 'khari work', cut-work and dazzling borders for bands to brighten up the basic get up of 'shalwar kameez' etc. Professionals, like bankers, doctors and teachers are no longer Plain Janes. For women have perfume and other fancy accessories, saris are there for special occasions in the offices and schools like anniversaries and annual functions. There are then, the two Eids, Christmas, 'Durga Puja', 'Pohela Boishak', apart from 'Falgun' ,'Valentine's Day' and occasions like get-togethers on birthday bashes and family picnics. Selection of saris are put aside for trousseaus by hopeful mothers, and caring aunts. Thus the demand for saris has not died out entirely despite the vogue of more comfortable clothes for the workplace.”

Nilufar's choices of motifs are trimmings, flowers, leaves and tendrils. These are made flamboyant and exquisite by the choice of contrasting and matching colours. Beads, seed pearls, “dollars”which are flashing aluminium pieces, rather than fairly heavy mirror pieces, as used to be, in our mothers days, as Nilufar puts it, brighten the silk and even cotton items.

“These are readily available in special shops at Chandni Chawk and the New Market areas. Silk threads too are sold in kilograms and pound weights. Pattern books, carbon paper pencil for drawing, wooden embroidery holders are obtained at special shops, who are only too ready to please the regular customers. These are obtained from overseas, and fun to search for and stock, for a needlework lover.” says Nilufar.

By Fayza Haq

News Flash

Inspiring Singapore Biennale 2011

Singapore is one of those countries where art is highly appreciated. Along with the Biennale 2011, The Singapore Art Festival (13 March to 15 May) showcases local arts of the nation.

It focuses on reconnecting audiences through memories, histories and places long forgotten. That's why, the theme for this year's festival is “I want to remember” centring around the idea of a past that redefines the way we look at the present as we excel into the future.

The third Singapore Biennale (SB2011) inaugurates the extravagant Merlion Hotel as one of its tailored key pieces, meticulously crafted by the renowned Japanese artist, Tatzu Nishi. This event is organised by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) from 13 March to 15 May 2011.

At the show legendary Mexican born artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer will construct an installation named Frequency and Volume that furnishes a new meaning for large scale public interactive works. He specialises in interactive installations which fall in the category of architecture and performance art.

This particular artefact has inimitable features which enable its viewers to tune in and listen to different Singapore radio stations by casting shadows of themselves on a long wall of Old Kallang Airport.

Shifting the attention to The Merlion Hotel, an important component of the Biennale, artist Tatzu Nishi revamps an adored Singaporean landmark into a temporary and luxurious hotel suite open in the day for public viewing and in the evening for overnight stays.

The artist invokes a unique experience for the public enabling them to actively take part in the entire event. It is definitely a pioneer in its kind because The Merlion Hotel is a piece of the art exhibition and the public can be a part of it.

The hotel also starts a contest titled as "I Should Stay at The Merlion Hotel contest" where the public can take part and winners can enjoy a complimentary overnight stay at the hotel on 13 March and 15 May respectively, which will be the first and last days of the Biennale.

The public have to write a personal story of 100 words justifying why they deserve to win an overnight stay at the hotel. The artist along with members of the organising team will judge the submissions. The other promotional activities will be constructed after the launch of the Biennale.

The Merlion Hotel is located in the heart of the city amidst world-class shopping, entertainment and the Central-Business-District. Hotel reservation process starts from 28 February, 2011. Special rates of $150 will be availed by those who stay within 4 April to 5 May.

For more information, please log onto http://www.singaporeartsfest.com/

-- LS Desk


Sometimes there's nothing you can do other than get angry. Traffic isn't moving fast enough or at all. The line at the bank isn't moving fast enough. The download bar isn't moving fast enough. But your heart rate sure is. Can you do anything about it other than get angry? Just let it go! There are times when you have to accept that there's simply nothing to do about what's bugging you. You can't control someone else. You can't stop the lecturer in his 3 hour long speech on the word 'modality'. You let it go. Forgive. Some people or situations just can't help but be irritating.

Prepare for an alien abduction

The law of the universe states that the tighter your schedule the more likely something will turn up to make you head for the open window to jump out of. When scheduling your time, assume something will go wrong. Electricity blackout, sleep, a person, alien abduction, war, something will turn up to ruin your schedule. Build in a cushion of time to deal with it. Be conservative when committing to a deadline. The mantra popular in management circles is to under-promise and over-deliver, great for building reputation, easy on your stress level.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny


As The Daily Star has moved to its new premises, we request all our event invitations, press releases and other forms of correspondence be sent to Raffat Binte Rashid, Editor, Star Lifestyle (7th Floor), 64-65 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka 1215. Email: lifestyleds@yahoo.com or raffat@thedailystar.net



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