Friday, 29 October 2010

Keep-sake or keep safe?

My tigress is finally finished! Shiny from her coating of melamine she sits rather regally on the floor of my studio, pleased to have me off her back and able to rest without being prodded and poked about! From a white albino fibre-baby, she has transformed into a bollywood shake-a-tail girl; bling pink and sequined to the hilt, she truly is a beautiful girl! Covered in chamak gulabi roses and adorned with painted oriental lilies that climb up her spine, each day she has infused a presence of her own in her temporary home that is my studio these days. As she tilts her nose rather disdainfully in the air, perhaps chastising me for "dressing" her in open view of all and sundry, I am beginning to have my heart strings tugged upon knowing that shortly she will be off on her jaunt to Delhi, via Mumbai.

I am not certain if she is a party-type girl! From her get-up one should assume so; but then her fiercely piercing eyes suggest otherwise!! She has two tails that nestle calmly curled at her feet, but in the watchful stance I sense that in an instance she will pounce and hold you pinned to your conscience; for her glittering skin is not to be eyed or coveted, but is to remind you instead that you alone can become the saviour of her extinction.

Pukkaar-billi-billi! Call out, and do not let a piercing silence engulf you from the greed of trafficking in tiger skins and relics. Pukkaar-billi-billi, and hear instead the deafening roar of these beautiful beasts command your fear and respect. Help them to propagate in their natural habitat, and build back their numbers through our vigilance and nurturing. How is it possible for this endangered animal to still be poached and slaughtered so openly in spaces where they are expecting to be protected? The trail of blood most certainly leads to positions of power and political connivance. Be cautioned, we may only have artists renditions of this amazing animal if we do not act with responsibility, and make it a personal mission to save the tiger.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

From the Centre....

Wired at the Heart
52 Ceramic pieces
exhibited in Mumbai -2010

Friday, 22 October 2010

Moths & Butterflies : the Sun & the Moon...

Some of the best teaching sessions are after dinner at midnight! Unplanned, these occur as our students and artist's in residence bring their work over from the collective studio into the drawing room for what is meant to be a "quick-gun-mruggan-glance"! This of course is never the case, and what unfolds are these wonderful sessions in the muted zone of divided time, between a day past and a day yet to begin; of sharing and belief in the dreams of one another.

Baroda despite being a dry state, is party-land each day. BMW's and Suzuki Hayabusa's are an everyday sight on today's crowded roads of the city. Lavish lifestyles and burn outs go hand in hand with dhokla-culture and jallebies. My refusal to be part of this high spirited circuit when I returned in 1984 from London to make Baroda my home as an artist, was because I knew it would create a wasteland within my soul and boredom would paralyse my already tiny brain. Instead our home has always been a space where friends and loved ones can come to find peace and time to reflect with themselves. To read, to be embraced by positive attitudes, to regenerate a pulse of failing self-belief, to laugh, to cry, to be sheltered; or to just eat and feed the delight of togetherness with fun and laughter.

My spirit within my home is on call 24 X 7 and I would want it no other way. It can be exhaustive and I have my hair tearing moments too; but in the moments when I see nurtured energies translate into life changing spaces, it becomes the greatest reward to have found a space of contemplation that holds more than myself. I have some wonderful tributes of love which are not off a shelf but have been made or found, and delivered with exquisite tenderness. Only recently I received a cut-out paper doll with moving hands and legs.....!

Sometimes we all troop up to my studio before we disperse for the night, to look at my days work, or we pour over Surendran's lap top looking at visuals that have many stories that he narrates to us from the depths of his favourite chair in the drawing room; or we listen to snatches of music from his vast collection that holds us silent and transformed, and in tune with ourselves in magical ways that are infinitely precious. It is a life that is truly special and I feel so thankful to have known which road was mine to take on this journey.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Eat, Sleep, Laugh......!

I took off for a fun filled three days with friends to a place down south. I am no Julia Roberts but my new mantra in life is to find that small window of time in which to just hang loose and become a total idiot! In my daily life that is crammed with an assortment of roles, and work that should get me an Oscar if I was living it out on the silver screen; time takes on another meaning than what any dictionary defines it as, and so these interludes with friends who are as crazy as I am, becomes a great stress buster and relaxation for me.

The high light was pre-determined....NO AGENDAS!!!! So the day would begin with each of us munching through piles of food. My breakfast plate would be arranged with two steamed idlis with a variety of three chutneys, pork sausages & bacon on one side and two small pancakes with maple syrup on the broad rim of the plate! Do try sometime....very very yummy! A limited time of nothingness would then begin....with mad conversations that ranged from ragging each other to serious in your face conversations on culture and politics; and of course laughter in HUGE doses that were triggered by nothing that can concretely be would just a magic act from the hat of tricks, our funny bones were in overdrive!

Then it was lunch time.....! Eating can become rather like a devotional act for foodies!!!! Pleasure of renunciation and nirvana all in the circle of a plate!!!!! Many fervent proclamations about " a light bite" would occur before the rituals of ordering the food....and then the table would groan!!! We all devoured seafood as if we had been lost in the snow mountains of nowhere and had been living on ice and air to survive!!!! The route of travel of the food on the table from one plate to another, as bites were shared and portions were distributed, would have put a treasure hunt map-maker to shame with the amount of zig-zagging that occurred on a 4 X 2 rectangular space!!!!

Then would come the siesta zone. Mmmmmm! Even I succumbed....only I did it my way (Frank Sinatra would have liked that!!!).....sitting propped up in bed dozing over TV!!!!! High on the program of nothingness was the daily swim and steam session. Splash splash.....sweat sweat....waka-waka- yeahia-yeah...decadence thy name is holidaying!!!!

Now of course after you swim you are Hungry with a capital H!!!! So need I say more. The table would groan again whilst we would sit in a shack on the beach and be surrounded by the pure magic of the sea lapping the shore, the moon high in the sky and the delight of being footloose and fancy free!!!! My imaginative mind had Johnny Dep walking out of the sea towards me....pirate of the sea and all............!!!!!!

Back in my studio my blue tiger roars silently at me for leaving the two-tailed beauty unattended for these days. Begum however rubs herself knowingly on my ankles understanding the luxury that nothingness is sometimes truly divine!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Tiger-Tiger burning bright.....

I am taming a tiger in my space! Well when the Artiger project team sent me this rather clumsily executed seated fibre glass tiger I was rather nonplussed as I had assumed that it would be a standing tigress! Well my tiger was all male (!) and so the first thing I did was to snip off the manhood of this poor beast!!! Suffice to say a beautiful pink second tail grew in its place over night!

Pukkaar billi-billi . The work slowly transforms and as I sit writing my blog the blue tiger with pink oriental lilies painted on its spine, guards me from its perch with wide eyed intensity and new found elegance!

Chatting with my gallerist this morning I spoke about how I wished there were more spaces of experimentation for artists in India. Where physical spaces could become sites that were intervened with, rather than have art only as objects of adornment as is the case most often. Corporate offices, banks, hospitals, airports, railway stations, private homes.....the list is long, the possibilities infinite. Ceilings, walls, staircases, windows, floors, basins......anything.....everything; just waiting to be transformed!

When the Bombay international airport was being "artified" I was approached to give a work of art that was to be "hung" on a wall. The terms and conditions of engagement were so unprofessional, that such ideas become spaces of charity instead of venues that can truly do something outstanding and genuine. The consideration of the safety of the work, the ownership, etc was just swept under the carpet with the usual explanation that "the budget" doesn't accommodate these factors. Ah well!!! Chalta hai India jai ho!

A young friend who owns a hotel in Baroda spoke about her interest of creating a small collection of art within the hotel premises that showcases Baroda art. What one hopes is that the bartering mentality that believes bargaining is essential when acquiring art, does not interface into this idea, because then quality and history gets automatically compromised, which is truly such a pity.

Today I have ten kilos of rose petals drying in my studio, remnants from the presentation of my ceramic art work Wired at the heart ....let's see what surprises I can conjure for myself from the magic hat of my own imagination !!!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Yesterday the Ceramic Centre Vadodara held a preview at the Red Earth Gallery in Baroda of it's 10th anniversary celebration show. This exhibition is scheduled to open in Mumbai on the 11th of October 2010, at Art& Soul Gallery, in Mumbai. These images are the presentation of my work titled Wired at the Heart at the preview yesterday.