Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Chapter........

Arrived in Chennai on 1st Jan, 2014 with mixed feelings. Although it was a relief to leave behind the gloomy cold UK winter, it wasn’t easy to get adjusted to my new surrounding. It took me sometime to overcome the restlessness felt within. After getting a bit familiar with this place, I started searching for some activity related to art or social service. Before coming to Chennai, I felt the urge to learn sculpting. Lalit Kala Academy Chennai was offering enrolment to artists for working in their studios. Towards end Jan, I got enrolled for 3 months and under the guidance of Mr. T. Vijayavelu, the supervisor, sculpture workshop and young sculptor Mr.Ravindran Velsamy, I made my first attempt at bronze sculpture. The method is known as ‘lost wax process’. Below are the steps involved in preparing the wax required for making the model. 

1.Starting the fire to melt
coarsely gound resin 
2. Resin is added
while stirring in order to romove lumps
3.Cutting wax using fine wire

4.Wax pieces being added
slowly to molten resin

5.Molten mixture of resin and
wax is stirred
frequently to remove air

7.Material ready for moulding
and sculpting

6.Molten mixture is
seived to remove
solid impurity

My first attempt at bronze sculpture-
It took me a while to get the hang of it. The medium [hot,molten mixture of wax and resin] was tough to handle but the whole experience of trying to gain control over it was thrilling.
These were made before April 15th.
The first satisfactory outcome 
In the words of sculptor Henry Moore-
"Now I really make the little idea from clay, and I hold it in my hand. I can turn it, look at it from underneath, see it from one view, hold it against the sky, imagine it any size I like, and really be in control, almost like God creating something.

On 8th march,international women’s day, I conducted a craft demonstration session at Somerset for the residents. I used materials from my kitchen and other recycled stuff to create jewellery, decorative items. Some are shown here-

We left for Boston on 19th April to spend our 40th wedding anniversary with our children and grand child. A surprise visit from my only brother who came from London and my granddaughter’s cello performance coinciding with our anniversary made the occasion a memorable event for us. We returned to Chennai on 11th May from near freezing temperature to 40C. 
While I was recovering from jet lag and getting adjusted to the temperature difference, I received an invitation from Apparao gallery to give a talk on Nandal Bose and his innovations with alpana. Next few weeks were spent in preparation for my talk. My demonstration cum talk was at Sandy’s, R A Puram on 21st June. On 20th June, I spent 2 hours at Sandy’s doing alpana at the entrance. The free hand, 4’ x 3’ alpona was done on the spot with finger in traditional method. The materials used were rice flour for white, turmeric, and coffee, all natural and locally available. The demonstration on 21st was a smaller alpona, only in white, where the guests also participated.

The event was covered by The Hindu.
[jpg version]:-

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coffee works gaining attention!

With the DST[daylight saving time] coming to an end and the summer gone, the dark and gloomy days will return soon! Its time for me to return to my blog before I go into hibernation.
After two weeks of fun in Boston, I was back in Reading looking forward to up-coming events. The art works done with coffee, exhibited from 5th May at the Takeaway gallery in Reading, looked very attractive in the frames. This event was covered by the local press and two of my works were sold.


On 7th May, I participated in the Tagore festival organised by the Tagore centre,UK in London, at Gordon Square. At the festival, I sold a few live art in acrylic on canvas and a few limited edition prints of my earlier works. The open air performance with Tagore’s songs and dances recreated Santiniketan in the heart of London. I couldn’t resist it when I was pulled by one of the organisers to join in a dance.

This was followed by an invitation received from the Nehru centre, London to deliver a talk on-
‘ Paintings inspired by Tagore’. My talk involved my association with Tagore's Santiniketan, its art, craft and aesthetics and its influence on my art. I enjoyed going down the memory lane to the days of my childhood and youth in search of materials required for the talk. It was interesting to trace the development of the unique art style in Santiniketan during the time of Nandalal Bose.

My exhibition, "Timeless Tagore" was a landmark in my journey as an artist but, now I have moved away from that chapter. I have been on the move since then and circumstances motivated me to try out various techniques in different media, exploring the possibility of creating something new.
On 17th July my portrait of Pandit Ravi Sankar, done after he passed away in December 2012, was displayed at Nehru Centre, UK during a performance by the Sujata Banerjee dance company in memory of Pandit Ravi Sankar.
I had touched it up a bit. Here is the revised version.

This was my first attempt at combining two different media. The first step was to do the foundation and background with water colour and the second step was to develop it using charcoal.
I found this quite satisfying as it brought out the effects I wanted to produce. I was happy with the expression and mood displayed in this work.

While I spent considerable amount of time in the preparation for my talk, the dramatic change in weather made June, July and August the most enjoyable months during my year long stay in Reading.  Suddenly the curtain was raised and the magic began. Now I know why such great poets were born in this country. One has to experience this drama in order to get a feel of its charm.
Our daughter came to visit us in July and we visited Ireland with her. After she left, we visited York. In August, our son came to visit us and we spent a day at Henley on Thames, another place I love to visit. Almost all weekends were spent visiting beautiful places in Britain.This was when we came to know that our stay in UK has been extended. I was only too happy to be here as long as the summer lasted. I was reluctant to leave UK during this wonderful time of the year, but 31st August arrived too soon and we had to leave for our two week’s tour of Turkey. The only piece of art done by me during this whole stretch was another coffee painting promised by me for my brother.

This goes to show, how I was enjoying the UK summer. I didn’t even feel like spending time on en plein air water colour. We returned from Turkey on 13th September but I was completely exhausted. It was a conducted tour and I found it very hectic. Walking for miles in the ruins for more than a week in the scorching sun at 42C became more of a torture. It took me two weeks to recover. Strangely, this painting was done before I visited the ruins!

Our annual festival, Durga Puja was round the corner and I felt like doing something related to this age old tradition that has now become a part of the culture of Bengal. I have always enjoyed visiting the old Jamindar[landlord] houses during this festival and in this work, I have tried to capture that memory.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Surviving the dark months in UK

Working in artificial light was bit painful for my eyes and soul. I was unable to see the colours I wanted to see. Watercolour is something that requires patience, soft and caring brush work, playing with water and a mood for all that. After doing a few works in water colour, I realised that I wasn't enjoying it, yet I couldn't stop working. This is when I received an invitation from The Coffee Art Project, Allegra Foundation to submit a work for charity.
....."The Coffee Art Project is a high profile art competition and combines our passion for coffee and art. Emerging artists specialising in all media types have submitted unique pieces of artwork that connect to coffee or coffee shop experiences.The ultimate objective of this programme is to raise valuable funds for Project Waterfall, which supports clean water and sanitation initiatives, this year in Tanzania."
I did the two of the following paintings in coffee on water colour paper. In my earlier post, I have talked about using espresso coffee, freshly prepared at home. This time I tried out with instant coffee. I came to know from the website of Steven Mikel that dark shades could be obtained by saturating the solution of coffee in water through evaporation. In his site he has also mentioned about the durability of coffee as a medium. An experiment carried out by him has shown that water colour fades faster than coffee stain when exposed to direct sunlight. Below, is the work submitted to The Coffee Art Project along with the artist statement.
MEDIUM:  COFFEE[aq] ON WATER COLOUR PAPER [ Fabriano 300 gsm ]
SIZE : 40 cm x 50 cm, Frame included
Artist statement-
Why I chose coffee as the medium used for this artwork?
I have been painting with coffee for quite sometime. This purely organic medium is easily available all over the world and allows me to pursue my artistic activity anywhere and everywhere. A sheet of watercolour paper, some water and paintbrush is all that I need to create my artwork. I have worked with charcoal, watercolour and acrylic extensively but I must admit that I am getting increasingly addicted to this versatile and unique medium with its heavenly aroma and pigment that amazingly lends itself to create fascinating shades of brown and dramatic textures.
Why I chose this subject?
The movie Lincoln was fresh in my mind when I received the invitation from Project Coffee Art to participate in this art exhibition with a humanitarian objective. I began with a portrait of the Oscar winner, British born Daniel Day Lewis in the role of Abraham Lincoln and slowly got motivated tocreate something relevant to present day slavery. The   outcome is this artwork “Can you hear the cry?”This work was displayed at a pop-up exhibition at the Dray Walk Gallery, London,from 16th to 25th April,2013. It is now a property of The Coffee Art Project.
In March, I was invited by photographer Ross Hale to exhibit my coffee works at the Takeaway Gallery, Harris Arcade, Reading. I did the following works in coffee and along with some of my earlier works, these were exhibited in May,2013 for a month.

12th April- left for Boston to visit our children and grandchild.