Le Corbusier had a story to tell in each tapestry

Giving this information at the inaugural session of the two-day seminar on Le Corbusier’s tapestries here today, Ms Michele Giffault, Chief Curator, Museum Aubusson, France, said Le Corbusier wanted to tell a story in each of his tapestries.

‘He designed a total of 50 tapestries of which 38 are in France and 12 in Chandigarh. Basically meant for sound absorption, these tapestries are an integral part of the buildings,’ she said.

Referring to the colour scheme of tapestries, Ms Giffault said Le Corbusier was the first artist to use the colours black and white in good measure. She also gave a detailed speech on the tapestries hanging in the courtrooms of Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Haryana Vidhan Sabha.

‘Inspired by Gandhiji’s idea to promote cottage industry, Le Corbusier wanted to get the tapestries woven by various village artisans. But, paucity of time forced him to get all the 12 tapestries made in Amritsar in just 55 days. Also, all but one tapestry was made on one spindle,’ she stated.

Making a detailed presentation on the tapestries in Chandigarh, heritage expert Kiran Joshi said each tapestry represented a different idea.

‘They are pieces of our City’s heritage. But, unfortunately, poor upkeep over the years has given rise to doubts if these tapestries will survive long,’ she remarked.

Supplementing her presentation with pictures of the tapestries hanging in the Punjab and Haryana High Court courtrooms and as also diagrams prepared by Le Corbusier, Ms Joshi said that unless the Government and the people wake up to the importance of the tapestries, they will be lost forever.

Earlier, inaugurating the seminar, UT Finance Secretary S.K. Sandhu, in a frank admission, observed that the state of the tapestries leave a lot to be desired.

‘But, the UT Administration is committed to supplementing all efforts to restore these tapestries,’ he maintained.
Making a plea for change in the attitude of the officialdom, which refuses to even discuss any change in the designs and architecture of Le Corbusier in order to make the structures and artifacts keep pace with changing time, Mr Sandhu said more needed to be done to preserve the priceless heritage of the city.

He asked the concerned citizens to join hands with the Administration to conserve the City and make it more beautiful.

Senior Advocate in Punjab and Haryana High Court M.L. Sarin expressed the need to allow greater access to the structures that are part of the City’s heritage.

‘In Germany, they charge upwards of 25 Euros to allow tourists to study tapestries. But, here, one needs to get a special permit from the Home Secretary’s office to be allowed entry into the High Court. Photography too is prohibited. The City can profit so much by allowing access to our prices of heritage, but will we do it” he wondered.

UT Chief Architect Renu Sehgal also made some observations during the seminar.

Meanwhile, addressing mediapersons yesterday, a leading French tapestry conservation expert expressed concern over the shoddy manner in which the tapestries in the High Court are being kept.

Ms Susan Bouret, an expert in the conservation of tapestries, said ‘accidents have happened’ to the tapestries hanging inside the Punjab and Haryana High Court courtrooms.

She also opined that the tapestry hanging in the courtroom of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice, which had been removed sometime back but was restored ‘after cleaning’ following intense public and media pressure, did not seem to have been cleaned properly.

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