By Lydia Fegan
This acronym stands for HandPapermaking Cooperative. I was reading through the summer edition of the Hand Papermaking journal and came across this article about an interesting initiative by a group of young architecture students in Ahmedabad, India. Their brainstorming and collaboration led them to start HAPACOOP. They organised a group of people with various physical, hearing, visual impairments and mental disabilities, to produce paper-pulp bricks and handmade banana paper and paper products.
“ The main objectives of the project are motivation training, technical assistance and provision of a livelihood to these traditionally under-served individuals”(p.27).
This project arose out of a small start-up company they called the Clay Club. The group was particularly concerned with the issues of a growing economy with depleting resources, shrinking job opportunities, inaccessibility to basic needs. To quote Pranav Gajjar in his article titled “Clay Club: By Collective Design” (p.26), “We identify the crisis to be an ethical one rather than economic or climatic. We approach our work with a goal towards benefiting society”. They also had in mind Mahatma Gandhi’s “swadeshi” village-craft independence movement as the driving spirit for the establishment of HAPACOOP.
This small but significant initiative in India echoes the rise of interest among young people throughout the world in craft culture as a reaction to the tyranny of technology in our lives. Globalisation and its discontents drive artists to consider different ways of expressing concerns about sustainability and local economic empowerment, and biodiversity in a more socially engaged way, that is, to create ways of collaborating and creating and surviving without recourse to technology.
Article review and photographs: Lydia Fegan
Reference: Hand Papermaking; vol 31, no. 1. Summer 2016.