CHENNAI: Fifty-year-old German artist Birgitta Volz paints on the trunk of the trees to create wood and bark prints on canvas. For the past two decades, she has been making portraits of old trees. Her works inspire the oldest graphical printing technique — the wood print. Volz claims she’s the only person to create such wood prints in the world.
So, what exactly goes in to it? “I go on a walk. Mostly, I prefer forests. Once I find a tree I colour the tree bark that gives me irregular patterns. Then I cover the painted bark with a cloth and rub on it with my palm, brush and special tools. And the rest is magic,” says Volz.
Volz for whom Auroville has been home since 2004, began working on woodcuts in 1982. Initially, she worked on pieces of irregular wood and then started working on the tree itself. Volz’s works are simple representations of an uncomplicated mind.
She says, “Reinvented, restructured, distorted and fantasised, nature still remains an obsession with many. These are not just a piece of art but something that leaves you mesmerised.”
A closer view of her art reveals that she has experimented a lot with the medium. “Fiddling with such intricacies could create a significant amount of difference in the outcome of the deisgns. I work with handmade oil, colours, linseed oil, pigments, adhesives and quick dyes.”
The artist, who hold a Diploma in Graphic Arts and a Master’s in Fine Arts, says, how her works take some time for one to relate with in the beginning. “Art works are filled with secrets that seem to reveal themselves slowly as you look and look again at them. To me, the artistic language of my woodcuts is mostly abstract.”
Volz had her maiden show in 1985 in Germany and has also exhibited her works in many countries including Canada, the US, Japan, Brazil, Holland and Sweden.
Also an entrepreneur, Volz, has been involved in making the gold-in-glass jewellery ‘Matri Gold’ since 2004. “It’s a 24-carat gold that’s encased inside a glass outer covering. The idea came from Matri Mandir, which was being constructed when I shifted my base to Auroville. The whole idea struck me when I came out of the meditation hall,” she says.
Volz explains how rings, pendents, chains, necklaces and bracelets are being made of the material. “Once the gold is cut, it’s kept between the plates of glass. And then, the two are fused together in vacuum. To give a different shade, I use coloured glass instead of plain white. When the process is over, it gets curved and then a bit of polishing work is done,” she says.
Currently, a product designer, she has been training the aspirants in bark printing and jewellery making.
(Volz can be reached on 0413-2655172. The exhibition ‘Beauty Inside’ is on till December 20 at The Russian Centre of Science and Culture, Alwarpet)