TIRUVANANTHAPURAM : It was this noted quote by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky that Medha Bhatt remembered while speaking about her passion for fabric art. While people nowadays have no time for admiring beautiful moments like a bird sitting on a balcony, the same thing captured through art, according to her, can make people ponder. The artist, who is based in Gujarat, is in the city as part of her exhibition cum sale ‘My Whistling School Boy and other friends’, which is being showcased at the Lemon Yellow gallery in the city.
Differing from conventional artists, she has captured the beauty of birds using just and only fabric, sans paintbrush or a large canvas. Among her works, are sketches and textile art depicting birds of the Himalayas and the Western Ghats illustrated on old clothes. Neatly arranged in embroidery hoops and numbering around fifty, the series has a few rare birds, butterflies and other insects among the display.
For Medha, who has held a number of exhibitions across the country, the capital city brings up a lot of memories for her. She adds, “This is more like a tribute because it was in this city that I lived for around 12 years, during which I learned more about the waste issues, bird watching and forests. This is the reason you will find ‘Raju’s birds and Lisa’s birds among my works.”
The fabric art enthusiast had been a part of the NGO Thanal a few years back when she fell in love with fabric art. Recalls Medha, “While I was working with Thanal, back in 2004, they had the zero waste kovalam programme. We started adressing the fabric waste problem and I once trained women on making trees of Kerala out of waste. Fabric art was also used to address other issues like pesticide problems and so on.”
The artist believes that beauty lies in something dusty and dirty, even if they are of different shapes and sizes. The fabric artist, showing one of the wall hangings made of a discarded kurta, feels that the definition of old clothes has changed nowadays, with people discarding clothes just because they are bored of it.Creating art from fabric waste is far from easy, says Medha. She says, “I collect waste from tailor shops or go door-to-door for it. Then I wash the sack of tailor waste, as it can have a lot of things like rusted needles, cockroaches, mites, dust and even food waste. Then I will first draw the bird, study it, and then compare it with and choose the right fabric.
For instance, the Srilankan Frogmouth was a bird which took me hours to complete.” Inspite of the long process, she finds the process fun as well as something which address the problem of waste. She adds, “ It serves to tell people that this is the beauty of nature and let’s save it from pollution. This is a magical journey which can happen only from waste.” The artist had held an exhibition at Alliance Francaise a few years back. Currently running a studio, she exhibits and sells her fabric art works through the brand ‘first forest’. The exhibition will be on till Saturday.