On the 15 October 2022 between 9.00 am and 12.30 pm (IST – Colombo time) the workshop “Next generation of Sri Lankan designers – Developing and innovating Sri Lankan craft for export” took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The event is the continuation of the recent 2022 research and mapping of the “Handloom, Batik & Dumbara Fashion Industry in Sri Lanka” prepared by Professor Robert Meeder, coordinated and facilitated by the Cultural Relations Platform for the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka.
“Inspiring, supporting and working with the next generation of craft leaders is so important to the industry and youth of Sri Lanka. Artisanal craft is the future, so many European brands and design houses want to collaborate with the crafts sector to reach a global platform. But the key is a shifting mindset from competition to collaboration, we need to work together across the sector – and this initiative and investment from the EU Sri Lanka and Cultural Relations Platform towards training and education is the perfect opportunity to bring the world to Sri Lanka and back again.” – Robert Meeder.
The workshop featured presentations from founders of Europe’s leading craft platform XTANT and high level speakers, namely Andrea Brocca, the world’s youngest couture designer and Gourab Ganguli, talented fashion photographer and documentary film-maker from India. Brocca discussed the need of creating higher quality and higher value products, while Ganguli addressed story telling, competition and exposition in Europe. Pioneering Indian fashion designer Chinar Farooqui from Injiri also joined the discussion and shared her journey from local craft to global presence and the importance of cross regional collaboration between India and Sri Lanka.
“It was an absolute pleasure to be here in Sri Lanka as part of this fantastic initiative from the Cultural Relations Platform and the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka. I got to inspire the next generation of designers and creatives that will work with their craft which is so rich and has so much to offer! I also got to come for the first time to my mother homeland and experience first-hand the warmth, beauty and explore how to work with Sri Lankan artisanal craft on an international luxury level.” – Andrea Brocca
“Having worked with leading Indian fashion designers, brands and XTANT, a platform for global craft pioneers, I am excited to be here in Sri Lanka as part of the educational workshop from the Cultural Relations Platform and European Delegation in Sri Lanka. I am thrilled at the possibilities of creating connections and collaborating from India to Sri Lanka to the world – it’s all about collaboration, sharing and partnerships!” – Gourab Ganguli
During the workshop participants explored the potential of craft, understand and define the need for developing the sector for export and identify opportunities and partners to work, support and collaborate with. The event brought together 40 young creatives working in the craft sector and was a combination of live digital sharing sessions from EU experts and group discussions. The training aims to promote understanding of the craft and contemporary design for export, identify skills, design and craft opportunities within own network and explore how to add and create higher value through design intervention.
On the same day the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka hosted “Threads on Threads”, a conference on textile scheduled initially for 9 July 2022 and rescheduled to 15 October. “This conference brought together art historians, museum curators, and designers from Sri Lanka, South Asia and Europe to debate and discuss the history of textiles, their preservation, links and influences across borders, contemporary craftsmanship and the challenges of modern entrepreneurship”, says Ms. Anne Vaugier-Chatterjee, International Relations Officer for the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka.
The conference took place in the afternoon after the training and was livestreamed on the EUD YouTube channel. Key Sri Lankan industry representatives presented on various topics facing the industry at large. There was also an additional area of exploring what support is needed from the EU industry and thoughts on Sri Lanka, trends in investment and development towards craft, textiles and importing to EU.
About the Cultural Relations Platform
Launched in April 2020 by the European Union, the Cultural Relations Platform is designed to strengthen the EU’s ability to engage meaningfully with different audiences and stakeholders in its partner countries, through enhanced cultural relations and cultural cooperation. The Platform aims to promote and facilitate sustainable cultural exchange, support cooperation among cultural and creative sectors, and strengthen communities and networks of cultural practitioners. It supports and funds several activities in partner countries around the globe, including in collaboration with the EU delegations Worldwide.
About the Delegation of the European Union in Sri Lanka
Official relations between the EU and Sri Lanka date back to 1975 when the European Commission and the Government of Sri Lanka concluded a Commercial Cooperation Agreement. The EU opened a Delegation Office in Colombo in 1995. Today relations between the EU and Sri Lanka are governed by a comprehensive Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development which came into force in April 1995. The Cooperation Agreement aims to enhance and develop the various aspects of cooperation between the EU and Sri Lanka through dialogue and partnership. Cooperation is based on respect for democratic principles and human rights.