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Picturing a precious bond

"Matrutwa", the exhibition which is on at Manasthala Foundation till November 2, highlights aspects of motherhood and childcare through photographs, painting, sculpture and toys.

ALMOST EVERY woman looks forward to being a mother. The bond between mother and child is unique and no other relationship can be equal to it. India has some special childcare traditions, and this is perhaps true of other countries as well. The modern tendency is to reject most old methods as superstitious or unscientific; but many of the them happen to be well-founded. For instance, the handling of the baby and massaging its body with bare hands facilitates tactile and motor stimulation. It gives the baby a sense of security and the mother a sense of participation in raising her child.

The exhibition "Matrutwa" (motherhood) at Manasthala Foundation, which is on till November 2, highlights aspects of childcare and motherhood through photographs, paintings, sculpture and toys.

Rajny Krishna's terracotta sculptures, painted black, portray a mother caring for her baby in different ways such as bathing it, putting it to sleep, telling it stories, carrying it piggyback, etc. The images have flowing lines and borders on abstract imagery. In contrast, Dr. Radhika's black and white dry brush paintings are more realistic.

Huge newspaper images of a family are the creations of Chiranjeevi, a deaf-mute artist. Charming terracotta images of mother and child in various poses, are the creation of 11-year-old Lakshmi from Nilambur, near Calicut in Kerala.

Simple images, the medium is again terracotta, from Etikopakka in Andhra Pradesh are also part of the show. These are accompanied by colourful wooden toys — tiny cradles, rattles, trains, abacus and small kitchen sets or `choppu', also from the same village.

How many children these days are aware of games played with simple things such as shells, tamarind seeds, even pieces of stone? Manasthala is attempting to re-kindle interest in games such as Pallanguzhi, Goli, Gilli-danda, snakes and ladders, Dayakattam and Aadu-Puli. Printed instructions about how to play them are also available. Chiranjeevi has painted some of these like snakes and ladders in colourful grids. Books for children from Tulika Publishers are also on display.

An interesting item is the Diary 2003 - Celebrate India-Changing Landscapes; though how it is part of the exhibition on motherhood is not understood. It has several reproductions of rural and urban landscapes, painted from a moving train. Though the strokes look amateur and childish, they nevertheless highlight the country's vast railway network.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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