Artists and urban planner, Diti Baruah has been knitting the ‘Saah Baagan’ of North-East in aerial embroidery depicting the lush tea gardens of Assam with unwearied contemplation.
Imagine the sylvan surroundings of Loktak Lake and the landscape with lotus pickers rowing their boats on clear water, against a striking azure background, now imagine it not on any canvas but being conjured up on a piece of cloth, with innumerable knots and minuscule stitches, secured by a wooden hoop.
A self-taught aerial embroidery artist, Architect, and urban planner Diti Baruah, from Assam, creates alluring landscapes of cultural significance and unbridled natural beauty of the North-East on the cloth.
She has sewn many charming natural heritage landscapes such as the Deepor Beel freshwater lake, Dibru Saikhowa National Park, and Jatinga village in Assam, Meghalaya’s Dawki or Umngot river, and Ward’s Lake in Shillong, Nagaland’s Dzukou Valley and Arunachal Pradesh’s Siang river. The replica of Manipur’s Loktak Lake is her most admired work.
Aerial embroidery is an arduous craft and it can take a really long time as much as two months to complete a work. She works with French knots, a simple embroidery stitch that creates small three-dimensional bumps so that the artwork can replicate closely with natural bodies.
According to her, Visualisation plays a key role in her projects. The scale of the view she is creating, and the balance between the different natural elements is something she utilizes from her architecture and city planning background.
Again it was the pandemic that made her realise her creative side when she had to return to India two years ago. Baruah used embroidery as a medium to cope with the unsolicited change, rediscovering her love for it as she scrolled through social media—it was a time when many had returned to long-abandoned hobbies; embroidery was one of them.
Since the perception of people about North-East region is yet evolving and there are many cultural identities are waiting to be recognized by UNESCO or ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), she wanted her work to celebrate the North-East and its heritage sites having great socio-cultural significance.