Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chidiya Udd

Been toying with an idea. It is called 'Chidiya Udd' meaning 'fly away bird'. I am trying to give some identity and perspective to the kind of work I would like to do. Well, the idea is to do work that deals essentially with the girl child. Stories, art, publications, photo essays and more. I think that the art should be done entirely and only by hand. While I form a clearer idea of 'Chidiya Udd', here are some explorations for some sort of a logo/identity.

I am happy with the form of the bird, its derived from the form of the common sparrow. I prefer the vertical, thinner format myself.
I have just bunged the text it, haven't worked on the fonts or placement yet. I also need a better line than, 'art & stories'.
Of course there will be more information on the card. But I could use the back for that and leave the illustration unhindered. I need some direction on which one to work further on.
So if there are any kindly souls who read this post, do let me know what you think.

Friday, January 18, 2008

For Anek Taanka

I have just finished a series of illustrations for Varsha. Varsha is a textile artist who runs Anek Taanka. She is also my batchmate from NID, one of my best friends and the maddest woman there could possibly be. Varsha does some exquisite work, she works with stitches. Though the staple of Anek Taanka is furnishings, Varsha also does pieces of textile art, lamps, bags, among a myriad other things. What makes her work unique, is that all her fabric surfaces are covered with stitches. She manages to do some very graphic work as well as three dimensional work with fabric and stitches.

I made this series as icons for her website which is being built and for some brochures. The brochures are going to be stiff, brown paper with real, stitches running on them.
Sounds quite exciting!

3 inches by 3 inches
Ink on cartridge.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cats on Chairs

7.5 inches by 10 inches.
Poster colours, water soluble pencil colours and oil pastels on cartridge.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Abandoned Diet

A rather uninspiring subject this. A bowl of fruit that I attempted to eat through (I was trying to diet... I abandoned the diet after three torturous days). So the oil pastels came in handy. They allow you to get messy and put in all the putrid feelings that you may have about fruit.
So here is my nemesis caught in all its glory... a bowl of fruit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hojmi Ghuri for Happiness

I am posting this piece again. I made an illustration inspired from the text. Now that I have read it again... I realise I need to put in so much more into the illustration. Dear reader, do you think this story could be made into a book? With many more illustrations of course? I think it dangerously borders on too much of nostalgia and sentimentality. They say one should avoid this when writing for children.

Every Sunday Appa wore his oldest blue t-shirt. It had a soft feel to it like the slightest murmur. After his cup of filter coffee, a conference would be held in the kitchen. Ma would preside. The fridge would be rummaged and stock taken of which vegetables had to be bought.
Aiyyo, don’t buy anymore avarakkai. Nobody likes it except you”. Ma has been and still is the reigning queen of the kitchen. After a list was made of how many thengais and other karigai had to be bought, Appa armed with two old neatly folded canvas bags would slip on his chappals.

I always accompanied him on these trips. I too had my own vegetable bag. It was a tiny plastic woven bag, with blue and white checks, my paati had made it for me. I liked to watch Appa buy the vegetables. There was an order in which the veggies were bought. The first stop would be at the coconut seller. The coconut seller would pick up the coconuts and tap them. He wore large rings on all his fingers which made tick-tick sounds as he rapped the coconuts. Appa would then examine the coconut and shake it next to his ears to make sure it had enough water.
Saar, very good, Saar, discount price for you”, the many ringed coconut tapper would say.Then the potatoes and onions would be bought. The last stop would always be for tomatoes (so that they would not get squished you see).

The market place in Calcutta teemed with people, hawkers, flies, fish and livestock. Big, fat ladies in dhakai saris and sleeveless blouses haggled over the price of palak, sweat dribbling in wet streams down the back of their blouses. Trailing behind them would be a dark, emaciated little urchin lugging a bag of vegetables twice his size, a coolie hired for a few paisas.The ground would be slushy with slime and decayed vegetables. Appa would put in one tomato, one potato and a bit of some other vegetable into my blue bag. I carried the bag with the greatest care, skipping over the rotting brinjals on the ground, staring round eyed at the string of shops that lined the market. Bright bangles of every colour, loofahs, rangoli powders, fluffy candies and sweets were stacked in amazing tessellations.

My nose would inform me that we had reached the fish bazaar part of the market. Dark women with kohl rimmed eyes squatted on their haunches, their jaws working a slow, grinding movement, as they chewed on betel leaves, a faint trace of spittle beginning to run down their chins, their skin speckled with fish scales. They would squawk, screech or smile beguilingly while they struck a bargain. An expert twist of the fingers and the coins would be dropped into a pouch tucked in the waist, the notes found a much more snug and inaccessible place, in a clever little pocket stitched into their blouses which could just about contain their bosoms. Appa would have to tug gently at my hand to get me walking again; I could hardly take my eyes off all the fish that thrashed about, glassy eyed in the big, shallow, aluminum pans.

The high point of this weekly trip was the stop at the candy shop; a ramshackle tin shack that housed my heart’s delights. Big glass jars stuffed with pink, red and orange sweets and brown sticky churan balls. My favorite was the hojmi ghuri; a spicy, sweet and sour treat, a bit like hajmola, only softer, squishier and infinitely better. Everyone has a different way of eating hojmi ghuri. Some stuffed their mouths with it and chewed slowly, some nibbled at it. I first pressed the hojmi ghuri into a flat one rupee size disc on the palm of my hand. It had to be done right; there was a science to this. Right in the middle of the palm, not too thin a layer and not too thick. Then I would lick my palm. The longer you could make it last the better it got.

I often dream of Calcutta. In these dreams, I am running and skipping, the wind in my hair. I can almost feel the earth beneath my feet and see the fireflies.

Cat Tales

I am working on a series of art works for a friend. It's called 'Cats on Chairs', for no other exceptional reason other than they are pictures of exactly that... cats on chairs.
This is my first work as a commissioned artist and I feel nice and fluffed about it. Thought I should share some of the initial sketches with you dear reader (so far and few).

To start with I dont really like cats. They are far too independent for me. I like dogs and the way the hanker after you and make you feel so important. But I have always liked the form of the cat... slithering, slinky and so terribly sexy.

So the work is about black cats. Cats are interesting creatures, and I quite like the way they keep you guessing about their affections actually.

And these are the colours for one of the paintings. I am using poster paints and water soluble colour pencils on normal cartridge paper. I need to bring in more textures, perspective and depth into this piece. But this is how it looks as of now.

I am having fun. I went to William Penn at Koramangala today and spent the better part of an hour looking for art material. Got my hands on some lovely. Derwent, coloured charcoal pencils and some lovely paper. Life is good.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

25 frames with beer

Last Saturday (once removed) was unusual. It saw a motley bunch of people who shared some things in common share a few moments that were as nostalgic as they were interesting.

Frame two five met in Bangalore.

So it follows that the commonalities were the love of cinema and NID. Forefront among the not so 'commonalities' being Vasu's new hairdo.
I cannot deny that I went to the meet with some aspersions. The only bait that got me going was the opportunity to meet fellow NIDians (the connections with the mothership run deep) and the fact that I was terrified of incurring Arun's wrath and his follow up phone calls!
I reached earlier than the others as usual and waited at Barista's at MG Road.
Arun was the next to reach. His enthusiastic grin was infectious.
Soon Vasu, Vasu's fellow band mate, Chinmayi, Bharani, Aloke, Aditya and Geetika made their appearance.
Conversation of any kind at Barista's MG Road is quite difficult, especially when the collective age of the patrons at the cafe doesn’t quite add up to your own, so we drifted to my most favorite place in Bangalore - India Coffee House.
Over several cups of bitter-sweet coffee, Arun spoke about frame two five and what he hoped this meeting would eventually lead to.
An informal platform of NID film and video graduates who could share ideas, their love of cinema, films, conversations... gradually expanding to include their friends, anybody who loves cinema and could bring something of value to the group.
The conversation flowed, the idea was exciting. We spoke of ways of bringing in more meaning to what frame two five could do, in terms of eventually giving an added impetus to the film department at NID and its rapidly expanding fraternity.

I found the meet rejuvenating; it is always interesting to meet people you have seen as students or perhaps even taught as students in their new avataars as working professionals. It is nice to know that in whatever little way, you have been part of their journey.
We moved from India Coffee House to my home. We needed a quieter place to watch some films. Armed with several beers, we hijacked the television and plonked ourselves in front of it, thus disrupting any plans that the husband could have had of watching Manchester United strut their stuff.
Arun showed us a compilation of the project one of students who had graduated in 2007 (project one is the first independent film that a student makes, it can be either an advertisement or a public service ad). We also looked at Bharani, Chinmayi and Vasu's Project one; and my batch's first group project.
What followed were debates on juries; discussions on whether a film should be seen in the context of its film maker or not; on the film makers themselves, some of whom were present in the group.

On a more personal note, it was interesting to watch the film my batch had made as long back as 1997. We never finished the film; in fact we were so unhappy with the film that we did not even put in any credits to it.
I had written the story and the script for this film and I felt moved to see the potential in this film 10 years later. I could not help but wish that we had dug our heels in and seen this film to completion.

Though the frame two five meet at Bangalore started with no intentions of purpose, but perhaps more of curiosity and connectedness to the institute... the form that the evening eventually took was quite beautiful, even magical in a way. It seemed as if a bubble enveloped us, a bubble of common stories, journeys shared, ideas acknowledged, films made, films that worked and those that did not; there was this bond, fragile but a bond nevertheless, that wove us together.

To be honest, I am not sure if we will meet again in the same spirit, I hope that we do.
More importantly, I hope that frame two five is able to look beyond familiarity and the confines of NID. I would love to see this platform expand to include people from other disciplines, without labels of any kind, but very simply with sensitivity and sensibility to a story told well.