Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wood art catches like fire

While yoga may be very popular among foreign tourists, there is another activity that fast becoming a favourite among them


Varis is a tourist from Arustralia, who has been visiting the city for the past two years. Unlike most
tourists who come to Mysuru for its Yoga, Varis is more interested to learn the traditional art of wood inlay works.

"Each time I come here I make sure I learn a little bit more about the art. I now know how to select the right kind of wood and the right colouring shades. If I have any doubts when I am not in the city I
call the masters here and get them cleared," he says.

Like Varis, many foreigners from Europe, Australia, Spain,  German, Switzerland, France, and several Parts of America are coming to Mysore attracted by the desire to learn the art. While most pursue wood inlay art as a hobby, there are quite a few who claim to want to take up wood inlay work
more seriously and even make it their profession.

Katt, another a tourist from UK says that the inlay works are very different from anything she has
done before and compared arranging the intricate patterns and designs to solving puzzles. "We can
give 3D effects or just emboss the designs. It requires lot of skills
and requires patience," she adds.

Catherine from Australia, points out that the art works can also be used using waste wood,
trimmed branches from trees. "I have learnt to create couple of small designs which makes me
feel very proud. The techniques and methods has to be followed meticulously,” he adds.
S Ashok Kumar, a local artisan who has been engaged in the work for many years says that the tourists pass on word about the art to their friends and acquaintances in
their respective countries.
"They  are very dedicated and are very keen to know about this rich culture and tradition. They also purchase the art works in large numbers," he says.

Good for business

The artisans find teaching to foreigners very lucrative. The demand for the art works is not so good in local market with local  citizens or domestic tourists hardly showing any interest to learn it.
There were more than 17,000 inlay artisans in the royal city before Independence and presently there
are hardly 3000.

Anand, another artisan, says: ‘There is not only a dearth of buyers for the art works, but the local
population is not interested to learn the art at all. Its sad that it's foreigners who are more keen in pursuing such works."

Woods for the art Some of most common wood used in the art are rose wood, silver wood, teak,
yellow teak, honne wood (Merbau), matti tree, ebony, jack fruit, tamarind tree,
silver matti, pathangadamara, and other varieties of wood.

From Persia to Mysuru
Wood Inlay is an ancient Persian technique art. Persian artist who came to India to do inlay works on the Taj Mahal in Agra spread across the country.  Mysuru was a separate state during
this time and the artisans who came here were encouraged by erstwhile Maharajas. During the period, inlay works on rosewood, and ivory became very common. Some of the works which can be seen in the palace even today, are testimony to the workmanship of the time.

Shaukat Ali, a famous inlay wood artist who received a National Award, simplifi ed this wood inlay work and created a huge market for artisans by making them cheaper. Before this,
inlay wood arts were very costly.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Homes here are an art space

One usually associates painting exhibitions with galleries or museums. However, if the spirits of the arts are fired up within you, how about doing something different in Mysuru? Head to the house of one of these Mysureans who has converted their entire house into a perennial art and painting exhibition, for a different kind of experience. Be it the corridors, kitchen, restroom, bedrooms or the balcony.

There is no wall that is devoid of artwork in these houses. Srinivasa Putty is a resident of Krishnamurthypuram whose parents were painters and art enthusiasts. As a way to honour his parents and their work, Srinivas has covered his house’s walls with his parent’s paintings. His  house is built on a 40x60 plot and is aptly called the ‘Kaveri Kala Kuteera.’

Around 250 of the total 500 oil and water paintings that were made by his parents, Lalitha R Putty and Raghuttama Putty adorn every part of the house.

 Going down memory lane, this former dean f the commerce department at Tumkur University, says, “I hail from a family of artists. My father was a stenographer and after retirement he dedicated his entire time towards painting. He lived from 1973 till 2006. His mother created about 50 embroidery works and all this is also on display. “In every painting and artwork, I see my parents. Though many people have inquired about buying them. l do not wish to share any of the works. I am extremely attached to these paintings as one can tell,” says Srinivasa. He takes utmost care to handle and preserve his parents legacy and spends many days in a month dusting and cleaning their works. I have had these works for past five decades and want to pass it on to my children as well,” he adds.

Forwarding legacy

Srinivasa  sister Nanda Putty, his elder brother, Yatindra Putty are following in their parents' footsteps and also have their own work and those of their parents' displayed in every corner of their respective houses. Even Yatindra’s wife, Sumithra is an avid painter. The two stay in Alanahalli and get a good stream of visitors who admire their art.

Yatindra is mostly into making art in fabrics and cloth. Nanda says that she feels houses are empty if some form of art is not part of the aesthetics of a house. “We have built walls but alone they do not make a home come alive. We appreciate the value of art more now. It’s not just paintings but a kind of introduction to our family and our lives,” she adds.

Nanda has about 80 works displayed in her house that is also located in Krishnamurthypuram. Of these more than 40 paintings are about heritage buildings in Mysuru, and landscapes in and around the city. She says, “I feel happy when people visit my house and appreciate my work, criticize my mistakes and help me improve my works.”

Nanda is a mathematics teacher in a private school and also does on spot paintings within four hours. She has been paintings for the last 23 years and regularly conducts drawing and painting classes for children in weekends.

Sooraj, a local resident recently visited Srinivas’s house in Krishnamurthypuram. “The paintings are so natural it makes the onlookers spellbound. It gives us a feeling as if we are walking amidst the nature’,’ he says.