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Fresh interpretation

At the "Reclaimed: Recycling in Contemporary British Craft and Design" exhibition, on show till August 8 at the Forum Art Gallery, the diverse approaches speak of imagination in presenting the original idea in a new form.


SHOWCASING THE inherent resourcefulness of the Indian mind is an exhibition of works by Chennai artists Shalini Biswajit, Jacob Jebaraj, B. O. Shailesh, Rahool Saksena and N. Ramachandran. Grounded in the concept of reusing and recycling materials that have in effect served their purpose, this show runs parallel to a major exhibition "Reclaimed: Recycling in Contemporary British Craft and Design" presented by the British Council in association with the Forum Art Gallery.

While the viewer is allowed the indulgence of a distinctive slice of `new British sculpture', the exhibition may also be experienced within the indigenous milieu.

Creating an interesting new lexis with the inventive use of old materials the artists bring forth fresh interpretations and inventive forms. The sense of renewal dominates, allowing the mind to conceive of and reclaim new meaning, life and purpose in what is otherwise effectively worthless. Old identities are discarded with the loss of utility and the materials are reborn in new avatars.

By the nature of things, this very newspaper will be redundant tomorrow.

Jacob sees in that the opportunity to bestow upon it `an artistic and dignified rebirth.' Living near the sea, his works have sourced inspiration from turtles that come and go silently. Recycled newsprint and acrylic paint combine to create the almost meditative outlines of these fascinating sea creatures. Discarded metal also gives form to a creature from the insect world, an interactive sculpture of a spider made of appended pieces of scrap metal whose legs can be moved by manipulating the nuts and bolts.

Defunct textile machinery parts allow for Shalini's spontaneously expressed creativity, combining stainless and brushed steel parts to create easily recognisable customarily figurative forms. `Chatterbox' proves that the coldness of metal can challenged by her imaginative combination of the parts, sometimes providing a whimsical personality to the work.

Making a paradigm shift in terms of profession, Rahool has left the corporate world to pursue his passion for creating things. Exulting in putting things in a new environment and giving them fresh meanings, he creates forms that are functional, allowing an increase in value with the dual purpose. With a special interest in furniture and lighting design, he sees imaginative possibilities in discarded objects reinterpreting earlier form and function.


The struggle to deal with the enormity of Nature is exemplified in Shailesh's sculpture. Pulling the debt we owe Her into the Next Generation we are literally traversing space, crossing the wall, and journeying in time.

Although working on a new theme his characteristic circular elements continually find their place.

Ramachandran speaks of cyclical thought processes where everything exists in totality. A coconut tree may have myriad uses and then some. Suggesting their recyclable nature he compartmentalises their uses, for each process when transient changes and recycles. Existence itself is recycling.

Our limited resources and the `green' reason need not be the sole rationale behind this show, for recycled art in itself may serve as a challenge, an inspiration to the artist. The diverse approaches are extremely stimulating, speaking highly of imagination and resourcefulness in transforming and re-presenting the original idea in a new form. Where tyres become vessels, surgical gloves are turned into dresses, teabags develop into handbags, and crockery and utensils light up as chandeliers, recycling and recreating can be entertaining. Taking an object out of its initial working environment can alter the context and meaning and give it a whole new lease of life.

Fascinating and full of inventive appeal, this exhibition is well worth a visit. The works are on display till August 8 at the Forum Art Gallery, 57 Padmanabha Nagar, 5th Street, Adyar.

SWAPNA SATHISH

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