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At their creative best

The craft heritage of South India comes alive at VTI's exhibition


THEY REPRESENT the values of hard work, self-expression, perfection and beauty. Some examples of South India's traditional craft skills can be seen at an exhibition at the Victoria Technical Institute (VTI). It showcases some entries to the 34th Annual Mahatma Gandhi Birth Centenary Awards for Excellence in Craftsmanship instituted by the VTI.

The dexterous fingers of hereditary craftspersons convert wood, stone, brass, bronze clay and even grains of rice into classy pieces of creativity. From a stunning four-ft high Chola style Devi in granite to rice grains sculpted to tell the tale of `Rama Pattabhishekham', many of the crafts make artistic statements. The miniature carvings on rice done by T.K. Moorthy are awesome. Equally intricate are T.K. Bharani's miniature depictions in sandalwood. The Tirukurral and the life of Mahatma Gandhi written in a tiny 1 " by 1" book, are amazing.

A soft-stone nartaki standing under a bower of flowers sculpted by Veerabramhari is a smooth blend of the South Indian and Oriyan styles. A sandalwood Ganesha crafted with precision by Manoharan is compelling.


The mellow and boldly stylised beauty of Kalamkari is brought out in a multi-hued cloth wall hanging depicting the avataars of Lord Vishnu, while rosewood takes many forms, be it an inlay worked dining table or occasional tables. Syed Ismail's work in rosewood inlay evokes wonder, particularly his brass elephant embellished with bells and geometric patterns. Fine examples of Tanjore art and oils and water colours are also on display.

The VTI Awards carry a cash prize of Rs. 20,000 for the most outstanding exhibit as well as 10 cash awards of Rs. 5,000 each for outstanding exhibits in different arts and crafts. The awards are restricted to craftspersons in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.

The exhibits will be on display at VTI, 180 (old no., 765) Anna Salai, till month-end.

PUSHPA CHARI

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