THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “She keeps working for hours on end with her terracotta earrings, often skipping her meals,” says Lakshmi Venugopal, about her seventy six-year-old mother, Sarojini Amma. Lakshmi even jokes that may be it is her mother’s passion for clay that they tried to capture in the recent Malayalam flick ‘Kalimannu’.
Sarojini Amma started designing terracotta ornaments since 2013, when she went to stay with her younger daughter, Lekha Vyloppilly at Eroor, Thripunithura. With her daughters’ aid Sarojini recently conducted her first exhibition of terracotta ornaments named ‘Sarojalakshmi Designs’ at Press Club Art Gallery, Ernakulam. “Eroor is known for pottery works and the easy availability of clay, hence the material for my work is never scarce,” says Sarojini Amma.
The material required for terracotta ornaments - a mixture of sand and clay - is supplied by the potters in the vicinity at a reasonable price. Sarojini moulds the material with her hands and send them to the potters, who bake the products fit for use. These ornaments are later painted with acrylic and fabric paints.
“Though I had a zeal for craft, there were constraints from my family to learn or take it up as a profession”, says Sarojini. But that never stopped her from fiddling. She did her diploma in embroidery after her high school. Sarojini did her graduation after marriage, where she even secured a rank for her course in Hindi.
Those who know Sarojini Amma refers to her as teacher for her tryst with teaching in a parallel college and tuition centers in Kaloor, says Lakshmi. Sarojini’s creative streak was evident all through her activities. “Amma was our family tailor for so long,” chuckles Lekha, who divulges that Sarojini was the family’s go-to person when they needed dresses or trousers to be stitched flawlessly.
Art is no accident to Sarojini, who carries the proud legacy of her uncle, Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon, a renowned Malayalam poet, on her shoulders with panache. Her children are no different. By indulging in various art activities such as mural art, cartooning and music, they are also following her suit.
“Art is my life. It resonates in every activity I do,” says Sarojini Amma, her words of wisdom reflecting on her graying hair.