KOCHI: As someone who never had a formal training in painting, Bony Thomas, a journalist hailing from Ponjikkara, the illustrations he made were imbibed through passion. Beginning with editorial illustrations at various English dailies, Bony’s foray into literary illustrations was with writer N S Madhavan’s Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal (Litanies of Dutch Battery).
Apart from N S Madhavan, writers such as M T Vasudevan Nair, Unni R, Benyamin and P J Antony, have utilised his artistic prowess to enhance its aesthetic aspect to a different level. His latest franchise is for T D Ramakrishnan’s Mama Africa, a novel made in the mythological backdrop of Africa which is being published in Malayalam weekly. An exhibition, which began on November 1 at Pastoral Orientation Centre in Palarivattom, of his work from the novel concluded yesterday.
Born and brought up in Ponjikkara, his first attempt of literary illustration for ‘Lanthan Batheriyile Luthiniyakal’ was thoroughly glued on his life. He made umpteen trips through Fort Kochi and Mattanchery to get into the soul of the work.
“Illustration is quite similar to writing an abstract for a literary work. It demands a thorough research. We have to think beyond the writer to understand the nuances of the characters and transform them to the canvas,” says Bony Thomas.
The proximity factor was helpful in my first attempt. After that, it was the online resources that helped him. “I used to go deep into a work before actually doing the illustration. I have to experience the motifs of characters and their backgrounds to figure out the image. It has always been a tough task considering the inability to visit many ‘imaginary’ spaces and utilising sundry online resources. But the rigid timelines during my journalism days made it simple,” he opines.
According to him, illustration is an amalgamation many aspects. “It is not just an art. Every illustration is a mode of communication and cultural activity also. It hooks the viewers directly into the work and set them right into the mood. For me, it is ‘reporting’ a novel through drawing,” he says.
Other than an illustrator, he is also a short story writer. Apart from the short story collection ‘Dog Space,’ he penned ‘Kochikkar’ which portrayed the life and history of Kochiites. It was later translated into English by Ravi Shanker N. Currently, he is working on a new book which will hit the stands soon.