BENGALURU: At a time when snail mail is staring at oblivion and postal stamps seem almost invisible, one woman is preserving stamps in a unique way.
Deepa Melukote, 82, has been creating art out of discarded and damaged stamps for over four decades now.
It was in the 1970s that Deepa got fascinated with stamps. It soon turned into a hobby and then a lifelong passion as she began to create collages out of them. Today, this grandmom keeps a collection of intricate collage works created over 40 years.
So how did she come up with this idea? “I once read in a magazine about a British woman who used postal stamps to make a wall paper for her dressing room. I was amused by her creativity and wanted to do something similar. The colours are what attracted me,” says Deepa.
Elaborating on her work, this resident of Indiranagar says, “I first design an outline of a picture that I want to make a collage of. Later, instead of water colours or paints I use damaged or discarded stamps which I cut in desired shapes and use them to fill the design.” And from where does she collect these stamps from? From anyone willing to give or those that are discards.
Deepa’s son Nikhilesh has been an avid philatelist since childhood. One day when she saw her son, who was in school then, throwing away a few damaged stamps, she instructed him to give it to her instead.
Each piece of her art work comprises of a wide range of stamps that have been segregated and cut into small pieces. From historical monuments, dancers in colourful attires, landscapes, mythological figures, birds to flower pots, her subjects are varied.
Son Nikhilesh says, “My mom has a lot of patience. She sits from morning to evening to complete one design. But, sometimes she gets stuck as she may not have all the stamps or a particular colour that she needs. So I make
it a point that I ask all my collector friends if they can help me find them and then give it to her.”
Interestingly, her collage work is inspired from the places she has travelled when her husband, who was an IAS officer, was posted in different parts of Karnataka. Pointing to a collage of Vidhana Soudha, the 82-year-old says, “For a very long time my husband was working in Vidhana Soudha, and one day I came up with the idea of making a collage of it. In fact, all the peons at my husband’s office were instructed to collect the discarded stamps that they used to get and give them to me,” she laughs. Deepa’s art work has been displayed at the Mysuru Dasara exhibition, says Nikhilesh proudly.
But today, Deepa regrets that stamp collection as a hobby is dying. “Children today hardly know how a few stamps look like. These days I miss getting post cards with colourful stamps. Schools should take an initiative to educate children about stamps and revive the hobby of collecting stamps,” she added.
For Deepa, her passion for art work doesn’t stop just at making collages. She is good at needlework as well. Sewing ‘Kasuti’ designs on to sarees for her friends, stitching cross stitch motifs onto table cloths or making hand-made wall hangings and crochets are her daily activities, which she says are a great stress buster for her.