Last year, when the entire world stalled and the lockdowns were phasing in and out within the boundaries of every nation, Durjoy Rahman, the founder of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation spent a lot more time thinking about the artisans hailing from the rural communities of our country — how they would lead their lives when practically every sort of income mechanism had been disrupted. This is when the art connoisseur decided to collaborate with Kamruzzaman Shadhin, Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts, to launch 'Bhumi' (Earth), a project to support creative communities of the Thakurgaon district during the COVID-19 crisis.
"I had to start somewhere, and Thakurgaon seemed to be the right place to begin such a mega-scale project, since there are hundreds of traditional craftsmen out there, especially from indigenous communities such as Santals, Rajbongshi and others who were looking for support," Durjoy elaborated.
This project catered to around 60 families with more than 250 members. The four–month long project had been developed meticulously to tackle the preliminary stages of the economic downturn faced by the resident communities, an after-effect of the sprawling pandemic.
"We planned on the project to help the community of artisans 'up-north' and make their craftsmanship identified and celebrated, to the entire nation. But somehow, luckily, our works surpassed the boundaries and became a worldwide sensation, with popular news outlet CNN featuring our story to the global audience," said Durjoy.
And true it was, the drone shots of the seed bed by renowned nature photographer, Firoz Al Sabah made several rounds on social media, with praises pouring in from all corners of the world for the remarkable flair of the agricultural farmers. The project also highlighted the works of the jute artisans for their innovative scarecrow construction, the bamboo artisans, the distinctive fabric weavers, and the satranji (handcrafted rug) weavers of the district.
"We took the virgin (never-been-farmed) land on lease, to grow vegetables on a designed seedbed, with 'zero use' of modern-day technology or any sort of harmful pesticides. The seedbed had been shaped in the form of a buffalo and then when we took a drone shot, it turned out to be a huge sensation, with incredible representation of the ancient farming methodologies. My personal feeling is that I have been associated with a huge number of artists over the years, but Bhumi educated me in ways that are beyond comprehension. And I am glad to have been associated with such an auspicious project from the planning stage."
"I also want people at large to know that DBF (Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation) does not believe in abandoning a community after a project work is completed; we keep regular contact with the artisans associated with Bhumi till date, and help them through every means possible, whenever necessary," he said.
Inquired about the future prospects of similar projects, Durjoy revealed that he always wants DBF to be associated with similarly industrious and inspiring projects.
"Art is existent everywhere, in every form in every place and bringing that art to the forefront is our duty. DBF wants to inspire people. My dream is to establish DBF as a platform, where young, rising artists with impeccable talents can come and connect with ease. We are here to represent Bangladesh in its truest form, from the peripheries to the urban cities," said Durjoy.
At the end of our rendezvous with Durjoy Rahman, we had one question placed in front of him.
How do you want people to remember DBF in the long term?
"Just as an institution that is trying hard to make an impact on human lives via art and culture," reflected the art connoisseur.
Photo: Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation & Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts