To provide a platform for artists across the country and recognise artists’ work, the 15 winners of the 17th annual National Design and Art Competition (NDAC) were awarded cash prizes and certificates on November 5 in Thimphu.

Since 2017, two new categories of traditional painting and contemporary arts were added after Alan Bickell and his wife committed to fund the competition for five years.

The competition had three categories – gho, kira and embroidery before 2017.

One of the prize winners in the kira category, Thinley Zangmo said the opportunity was encouraging. “It has been about four years since I first participated in the competition. Besides earning some money, it also motivates us to come up with different patterns.”

She said she was keen on creating combinations of different motifs and colours to create patterns.

Another participant in the gho category, Ugyen Eden, said that it took her about seven months to complete the shinglo jadrema. In the market, the weaving fee of the gho alone would cost more than Nu 100, 000, she said. “We are grateful for such an opportunity as we can showcase our ability to work on innovative pieces that such competition encourages.”

She said there were kiras that cost less and that people needed to have interest in the cultural attires of the country.

One of the male participants, Pema Wangdi said it was his third time participating in the embroidery category competition. “In all the three times, he bagged second places.”

He said he had been doing embroidery for 20 years now.

Winners were provided a cash prize of Nu 125,000, first runners up were provided Nu 65, 000 and the second runners up were provided Nu 32, 500.

The event also saw the inauguration of the third phase of the Royal Textile Academy’s (RTA) project.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck said at the inauguration that the academy was founded with a mission to educate, promote and preserve Bhutanese textiles. “It was also to create international awareness and encourage international collaboration to promote mutually benefit exhibits and educational programmes.”

The income generated from the building, the Gyalyum said, is important to fund the academy’s programmes and activities, which will play a critical role in sustaining the efforts in fulfilling the academy’s goals.

Following Her Majesty’s visit to the Peabody museum in Massachusetts in 1992, she started to explore the possibilities of setting up a museum in the country. “Our efforts were rewarded when the nation’s first textile museum was established in 2001 in Thimphu with support from the government and DANIDA.”

As we celebrate the inauguration of the third phase we also look forward to the fourth and the final phase, which is envisioned to include a state of the art conference center, she said. “This will set us firmly on the cause to reach our goals and aspirations from the academy.”

Her Majesty acknowledged the support of the RTA’s friends and donors who have helped in the cause of RTA’s aims.

Executive director, Rinzin O Dorji, said the academy expanded from a single room office in 2006 to a magnificent complex today. “As the income would be used to sustain activities of the RTA, it is therefore, of critical importance to our sustenance.”

The office building has a space of about 36,000 square feet. Currently about 47 percent of the RTA office building is rented out.

Rinzin O Dorji said that when discussions were underway for what they should be working on, the idea of the four friends came up as consultants were taken in by the idea of four friends working together towards one end, which is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage. The four friends represent the four phases of the RTA’s project.

She said that the fourth phase would be to complement their activities. The construction is expected to start within one and half years.

“It would support sustainability, and help promote 12 other arts. It would be a cultural heritage center and a convention center although it is still a work in progress.”

Rinchen Zangmo