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Wear a piece of ART


IT IS an unassuming little place, almost unknown to the outside world, tucked away in the garage of her residence, where her tailors weave their magic under her guidance. But don't assume that her work is unassuming or unknown to the world. Everything about Jayanthi's work place looks aesthetically laid out. Beginning from her garden, her bonsai collection, to her home, everything speaks of good taste.

Modest, self-effacing saris, salwars, cholis, lehengas suddenly transform into exotic pieces on passing through her hands. Wasted bits, discarded cut pieces, considered worthy of going into the bin are converted into stunning yokes for kurtas and lehengas.

Jayanthi is the daughter of the renowned poet G.S. Shivarudrappa and wife of writer Marulasiddappa. Nevertheless, Jayanthi has carved for herself a distinct, a unique identity. And all her talent and inspiration comes from her mother. Jayanthi traces it back to her childhood, when she would watch her mother convert the dull furniture in her modest home into cheerful, colourful pieces by simply weaving in a touch of colour here and embroidery there into the fabric covering it.



Jayanthi gives that small but vital touch to make each garment a distinctive one. — Photos: K. Murali Kumar

"My mother had this uncanny knack of turning a plain, extremely dull piece of furniture into an exotic one that would not only be user-friendly but also much admired. Out of almost thin air she would create these shelf covers with attractive fabrics and zippers in place to keep the dust out where my writer-father could store his innumerable books. My passion with colours, fabrics, and designs started there."

In trying to give form to this passion, Ananya was born. It is now 18 years old and has taken on a multifarious hue. Bringing traditional designs and art alive, Jayanthi does different types of embroidery work that have their roots in different parts of our country and blends them into the stylishly cut salwar kurtas, short tops or cholis for lehangas.

Some of the highlights of her embroidery include kasuti work, `Gujarati' embroidery, folk motifs, Warli designs, tribal art, Egyptian designs, rangoli designs, hasekale designs, traditional tattoo designs, Kashmiri designs, and mirror work.

Old saris that appear too plain and unattractive are given a fresh lease of life through exotic embroidery work in the pallu and border. Sample these: an unattractive old grey silk sari that probably had not seen the light of day in years is converted into a stunning piece through some exquisite embroidery. Vying for attention is another plain Mangalagiri sari that has been turned into a striking piece through similar intricate embroidery.

Sometimes embroidery is done around existing motifs, merely to highlight understated designs. The end result is impressive. Where desired, zardosi work and ari work with kundan is done on plain saris. But dresses are not the only ones Jayanthi lends her hands to. A beautiful curtain piece depicting a village scene, created merely by pasting figures cut from waste pieces of cloth, becomes a conversation piece.


Are her skills confined only to her shop? Far from it. Besides putting up a stall at Crafts Council exhibitions, at the Safina Plaza, and at AWAKE's exhibitions, she has done costumes for many films, TV serials, and theatre. Jungle Boy, Swaraj Nama, Kotta, and Subbanna are some of the feature films and telefilms she has designed costumes for, while Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Fire and Rain are some of the productions she has done for theatre. Is her work too pricey? Not really. A typical cotton salwar costs anywhere between Rs. 450 and Rs. 1,000, while printed kurtas and short tops cost Rs. 225. A lehenga-blouse set costs anywhere between Rs.150 and Rs. 500. As for work on saris, the price depends on the intricacy of the design.

Attractive terracotta earrings based on a combination of traditional and contemporary designs catch the eye on the way out. "I designed those to match the dresses," says Jayanthi.

To contact Ananya, dial 26594718.

NANDHINI SUNDAR

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