THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lack of formal training in sculpture making has not deterred Usha Ramachandran, an artist based in the city, from making them. Sculptures made of bronze, fibreglass, wood and terracotta, inspired by the daily lives of ordinary people are her forte.
Presently she is busy preparing for her 13th solo exhibition ‘The Flow of Life’ that will be held at Kerala Lalit Kala Akademi art gallery in Kottayam on August 24. ‘Grind of Life’, ‘The Fishmonger’ and the ‘Little Laundress’ are some of the 17 sculptures that will be showcased at the five-day exhibition. The enthusiasm shown by art lovers in Kottayam towards her sculptures had prompted her to conduct the exhibition there.
“Most of the Malayali visitors who have responded encouragingly towards my works are from Kottayam. They asked me why I had not displayed my works in their hometown. So this exhibition is an opportunity for me to do so,” Usha said.
Her work ‘Grind of Life’ is based on people who struggle through their life overburdened by the desire to acquire material things. While ‘The Fishmonger’ was created from her experience of observing the fish sellers in Malabar.
“A fish seller used to come running down the path making a loud whistling noise with two baskets of fish strung on a pole hanging from his shoulders. You don’t see them anymore as they travel on two-wheelers now,” the 69-year-old artist said. ‘Little Laundress’ is another work that depicts a girl laundering clothes. It was inspired by Usha’s experience of seeing women or girls laundering their family’s garments early in the morning. “The sound of wet cloth hitting the granite slab used to be the sound of the mornings during my childhood,’’ Usha said.
Making the work ‘I Can Fly’ was a challenging experience for her as she had to balance a tall and heavy structure on a small base. ‘Dance of the Soul’ was another work that proved difficult to make. “It was hard to evoke the humbleness or devotion in the posture of the male dancer,’’ added Usha. As someone who made the foray into arts late in her career. Usha was referred to as an “outsider artist” by some people. “I find they call artists like me who made lateral entry to the field so,” Usha said.
She conducted her first painting exhibition at the age of 59. Since then she has organised about 19 exhibitions including both solo and group ones at various cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Chennai, Kochi, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Dubai. Usha currently lives with her family in IAS Colony, Vattiyoorkavu where she also makes her sculptures.