CHENNAI: The softly lit walls at Wandering Artist hold a unique collection of whimsical and fun artwork. Cats pounce around, bound within their frames, birds fly across the vast Atlantic Ocean, and a vibrantly feathered owl is dressed seemingly for a party — all made with old magazines and newspaper clippings. The artist behind these creations arrives right on time, as we examine a particularly intriguing collage of an urban landscape ‘The street smelled of memories’. “That one was particularly hard, because I needed to get the right angle of perspective,” smiles Indu Balachandran.
Until recently, Indu was known as a humorous writer, having published her best-selling first book Don’t Go Away, We’ll Be Right Back, The Oops and Downs of Advertising, a result of her 30-year career in advertising. Her latest, a writer’s self-help book disguised as a humorous novel, Runaway Writers is garnering international acclaim. Now, she has discovered the art of writing with pictures. We walk through her first exhibition PicTales.
Indu discovered her artsy side when she took part in a collaborative art event, as a means to fight the dreadful writer’s block. And serendipity led her right into the world of collages. “I can’t draw or paint, but being in the graphic design world of advertisement, I just packed in a few glossy magazines with the idea that if all else fails I will cut, paste and stick stuff!” she laughs.
Her collection for PicTales were inspired by images off the Internet like clip art, silhouettes, and photographs, and transformed into ‘real’ paper collages. Indu’s love for words and whimsical humour has found a way into her artful adventure as well; each accompanied by a witty one-liner that adds drama to the vibrant collages. “I couldn’t keep the writer away,” she admits.
What does she love most about making collages? “The crunch of the paper and finding exactly what you want is exhilarating,” she gushes, her delight is evident as she shares more serendipitous moments of making collages. “For instance, these birds were kept in a thick atlas book to dry, and when I opened them I found that this map background makes them look like migratory birds,” she points to the collage titled ‘We guys don’t like asking for directions’.
A watch that became a cycle wheel, a woman whose face is cut out of a romance novel with a polka-dotted head wrap taken from a ‘stolen’ magazine, each collage has a story behind it. Her favourite she says is the owl staring blankly back at the viewer, titled ‘How’s the nightlife around here’. “It took me just an hour to finish! I found the eyes and the required textures very easily, “she says, adding that all her other collages take, on average, half a day to complete.
Being an author, didn’t it kill her to cut out a book? “Yeah, it did quite a bit, but I needed a snippet from a romance novel for that collage. Cutting magazines, however, I found quite fun,” she laughs.
Indu says she looks forward to continuing her artistic streak. “But, I will never let go of writing! In fact, I’m heading for a travel writing workshop soon!” she says.
Catch PicTales at Wandering Artist RA Puram, till Feb 15. For details call: 9840111425