‘Sew’perwoman tales

Manojith Krishnan’s artworks can be read as a story; each visual is tells a tale and together they form a saga
‘Sew’perwoman tales

KOCHI:  She is a superhero, fighting both inner and outer demons. And she wields her powerful weapon – a thayyal (sewing) machine. She jumps into battle brandishing the thread. One end of the machine becomes a gun in her hand. The base is her shield. A warrior, she stands tall, poised, and prepared to take on all adversaries.

This is the woman in Manojith Krishnan’s artworks. An ongoing unnamed series, his pencil drawings, and sometimes digital illustrations, narrate the story of a ‘warrior’ and her ever-powerful sewing machine. “Well, the sewing machine is a symbol of liberation,” says Manojith. 

“In my childhood, it was constant almost every home. Like, there was soome scheme by the government or free distributions of sewing machines to women as a way to become self-sufficient. I have heard of many women who stabilised their lives with these humble machines.” 

Manojith, 34, recalls watching his mother going rat-a-tat on the machine. That may have been the inspiration for the series, he says. “The machine itself has gone through transformation. Earlier, they used to be big, with a pulley, and one used the legs to power them,” he says. “Later, compact, electric versions emerged.” 

The woman in Manojith’s works wields the vintage machine. He doesn’t exactly remember why he started the series. “There is no grand story behind the series. I never planned the theme; it evolved naturally,” he says. Manojith, who studied Instrument mechanic course at ITI, and worked in the field for around five years. Later he worked as an interior designer. However, he began his full-time art journey as social media evolved and became a new platform for art appreciation. 

“I had been interested in drawing since childhood,” he says. “Seeing artists post their curated artworks on social media was motivating.” What started as an artistic adventure soon turned into a passion. “I learnt with each new stroke,” he says.

From portraits to realistic drawings, his works gradually transformed into surrealism. Manojith approaches all his works from a visual vantage. “It’s like I am trying to look at a circle from a new angle, and then it goes on,” he says. 

“Also, things that are stuck in my mind, images I have seen, come into these drawings – they are all unplanned.” Now, be it his acclaimed sewing machine works or a series based on earrings, Manojith’s works convey many layered meanings beneath the aesthetics. 

“I realised people appreciate drawings based on a theme as I started the earring series,” he says. The earring, mostly the round jhumka, also infuses many forms — a shower, a mace, a shelter…. Each small drawing, both graphite and vibrant digital ones, encaptivate one with its elegance in each stroke and layer. “I have also been pursuing the folk mythology of our land. It is present in almost all my works,” adds Manojith.

Women are the main subject of his works. Be it his two ongoing series or his umpteen standalone works; one can see strong, beautiful women, young and old, in them. “I don’t know why,” he laughs.
“I am also learning and unlearning with each of my work. The difference between appreciation and objectification is one thing I learnt after I started publishing my work online. I recently came to know that my works resemble storyboards; some see a story in my series.”

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