Saturday, January 10, 2015

time machine

Thought behind the Thought

It was an unhurried Sunday afternoon, when my friend and I set out on our monthly trip to the city for some little purchases. The house had settled down for an afternoon siesta, and we thought we would wrap up the work and be back in an hour or so. And it so happened that when we came back from our short market tour, it was already late evening! We never realised when our quick trip had turned into a window shopping odyssey! That is how Time cheats us, and we cheat Time. A shopping trip, I thought, was the equivalent of a time machine for women with time on their hands and enthusiasm in their feet!

Which brings me to the Art and Design on display in the shop windows. Retail design is one of the most happening design fields in the consumer oriented world today. Buying and selling stuff has become a sort of recreational activity today, as against the necessity that it was earlier. Shops compete with each other to catch the buyer's attention, and most of them display their wares in very well designed display windows.

Art and Design

One of the most important design aspect here is 'Focus' The arrangement of objects in the Shop window is such that the product on display becomes the focus of the whole composition. Focus can be achieved in visual design by using different tools.

At times, the 'placement' or location of the element to be highlighted does the trick. The eye here, is naturally drawn to the object in question, because it is placed at the centre of the composition (creating a symmetrical balance), or at one end with hardly any other elements in the frame (creating an asymmetrical composition)

At times, it is the 'lighting' that determines focus and highlights the product to be displayed.

At times, the principle of 'Contrast' is used to draw attention to the product.

'Scale' is also an important aspect. The moment you enlarge an object with respect to the visual frame, it assumes an important role in the composition.

Window displays use all these tools to achieve effective retail design, in addition to the innovative themes that may be employed for the display.


Credits and Source of Information: 15,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

alternate generations

Thought behind the thought:

Most of us feel that we are right all the time! I honesty believe I am right 99% of the times. Yet “people” have repeatedly told me such is not the case. Once you are an adult you feel you are not to be assessed anymore, to see how you perform. Give a chance to your parents to talk uninterrupted for ten minutes or give a paper and pencil in the hands of your child and ask him /her to draw “you”. Be prepared to hear or see a hundred sides to yourself you have never seen before. 

About the art: 
Here is a compilation of notes written by kids to their parents. Children are brutally honest and not in the least diplomatic. These little notes are reflections of the kinds of people we are with our kids. Truly an eye-opener! There is one particular note that is a report card made by a child about his mother. We encourage you get report cards made by your kids and parents and share them with us. We would love to put them up here on the blog. Only then can we test if there truth in what’s being said in today’s quote

Do share your report cards!!

Photo Credits:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Thought behind the thought:

India has fought a long and hard battle to gain independence from the British Empire. We are still reeling from the repercussions of the same. Yet the future too is very worrisome. There are major problems that need to be taken care of like proper law enforcement, infrastructure, population control, poverty to name a few. These are real problems and they need fixing. The higher economic class feels that escaping the country and migrating abroad is a quick fix to better one’s future. The poor have neither the means nor the liberty to do anything about it. Yes, the past was difficult and so is the future. Who then are the solution finders? It is every educated and responsible Indian who needs to chip in. After all, they say charity begins at home!

About The Art: 

Maratha Architecture and forts built by Shivaji Maharaj 

The Marathas had their stronghold in the Western Ghats for nearly two centuries. Giving the Mughals a tough resistance it was only in the early nineteenth century that dissension in their own ranks and the war with the British Empire finally ended their power. Shivaji was an Indian warrior king and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan. Shivaji was born in turbulent political times, he laid the foundation of Hidavi Swaraj at a very young age and the whole future ahead was difficult , dark and under the threat of the Mughals and the British Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (Monarch) of his realm at Raigad.Truly a troubled past was easy compared to the clouds of doom that hung over the Maratha kingdom's future. Hence they built many forts in and around Maharashta, India to strenghten their power.

Marathas were excellent architects and visionaries. Not only did they build strong and formidable forts but their approach and meticulous planning is really commendable. Some of the salient features of the Maratha architecture are as follows:

Sindhudurga fort


Types of forts: There were essentially two types of forts namely, Jala Durg which was a water fort or Giri Durg which sat atop a hill. The Giri Durg allowed the king to have control across the land and Jala durg was used to guard the entry of enemies via sea routes.

Purandar Fort

Site and Siting: The selection of site was one of the most crucial elements in fort architecture. A place that had to be habitable for the king and his armies to live for long lengths of time yet be completely inaccessible and impenetrable to the enemy. Purandar fort lies 4000 feet above sea level and has an upper and lower fort. The lower fort is called Vajragad. The fort was built such that it would not be seen from other ridges. They even went on to the extent of blasting surrounding ridges to prevent any part of the fort be seen or overlooked by the enemy from other ridges.


Placement and Terrain: Raigad was considered during Shivaji's time to be one of the strongest forts in India, and in 1978 at a Fort Exhibition at Lucerne, a model of it was displayed as the best hill fort in the world. There are 1400 steps up to the fort and is extremely difficult to climb even by the regular route. Normally the fort sites were chosen such that it was impossible to attack the fort from any side. Tall sturdy walls fortified with ramparts built on rugged mountains with precipitous ridges.

Reservoir on Vijaydurga Fort

Water management: Water was perhaps the most precious commodities on a fort. A natural source of water, normally a spring or well was guarded very closely. Very elaborate measures of water conservation are seen especially on the sea forts as the king and his army had to survive several months at times on the fort alone. Reservoirs seen on Sindhudurga give us an idea of how rain water harvesting was known as a technique back then and effectively used as well. The name Panhala comes from the Marathi word panhali which means a drain. Apparently the entire fort of Panhala is such that the surface runoff of rain water could be collected and stored for consumption. The whole technique of studying and understanding terrain and topography and tapping appropriate places to get potable water was evident even in such an olden time.

Vijaydurga fort

Construction techniques and marvels: The constructions of these forts were done with very basic materials with limited technology. Yet the design solutions were remarkable and ingenious. A mixture of lime mortar and jaggery along with a few local materials was the bonding material used to construct the walls. This binding material was of such superior quality that on some of the sea forts one can see that despite erosion most of the mortar joints are fairly intact. 

At Vijaydurga recent oceanographic evidence suggests the presence of an undersea wall. It is supposed to be constructed in the sea at a depth of 8–10 m under the sea. It seems to be constructed in Laterite and is estimated to be 122 metres long, 3 metres high & 7 metres broad. Attacking ships were caught unawares and met their watery grave after colliding with it. Siddi Johar was warned by the Portuguese who had lost two ships near the fort.

Entrance to Sindhudurga fort

Surprise elements: Surprise elements are not often seen in Architecture but a number of such examples can be seen in the Maratha Architecture. Shivaji was known to practice guerrilla warfare and instances of these are seen in the forts too. A dummy wall would be erected on the opposite hillock to confuse the attacker so that they wasted their ammunition on it. A curved entry point to the fort ensured that the enemy was caught by surprise. The curve was designed in such a way that it took into consideration that swords were held in the right hand. As the enemy approached from outside their swords could be easily knocked down by the army within the fort without them being noticed first.

Walls of Sindhudurga fort

Walls: The lengths, breadths and heights of the walls are really stupefying. At Sindhudurga the wall thickness is about ten to twenty feet at places and houses toilets and  for the soldiers when they were on guard.

Temple on Raigad

Temples: Shivaji was a devout Hindu and Tulja Bhavani was the goddess he worshiped. Most forts have temples present on fort. In the temple in Sindhudurga there is a hidden passage that starts in a temple,  looks like a water reservoir but goes under the island for 3 km, under the sea for 12 km, and from there on 12 km to a nearby village. The tunnel was used as an escape route for the women if the enemy entered the fort. However, the British partially closed this passage after the fort was abandoned.

Shivaji himself constructed about 15–20 totally new forts including key sea forts like Sindhudurg. He rebuilt and repaired many strategically placed forts to make a formidable chain of roughly 300 forts stretched across a thousand kilometres along the rugged Sayhadri mountain range and in the coastal Konkan region.


Monday, January 5, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”, by Albert Camus. There is so much hope in this quote that it instantly connected with me. So, each and every one of us who is a leaf has a chance to become a flower. It does not matter if it happens in the very end, it does not matter if it will last only for a brief period of time. Our day to be a flower will definitely dawn and we must wait patiently for that to happen.

About the Art:

The greatest artist in the world is nature. No one can measure up to her. Not in scale, not in magnitude and definitely not in style. Everything is loud, colourful and gregarious. Arrival of every season is an event. Feelers are sent out; previews are given to select groups and an occasional no show also adds to the drama. The two videos here today are like the “making of” movie clips about autumn. The time lapse videos give us an insight into the scale of this production. Leaving us completely transfixed, with the beauty, that enamours, captures and enthralls us.

Let us look at a few Indian actors and actresses in their wonderfully colorful costumes. We may not have the pleasure of experiencing autumn colors everywhere in India but this performance happens all year round. Trees in their magnificent splendor!

Chinar in Shrinagar

Palash in Ranchi


Jacaranda mimosifolia

Michelia Champaka

These actors perform unabashedly and bring so much joy to our ordinary lives. This is one drama that has been going on since the beginning to time and it should continue till time immemorial. 



Thought behind the thought:
A typical day involves reading the newspaper, checking for emails, going on social networking sites and working with the Internet. There seems to be this whole amount of information explosion that seems to engulf us. We are simply not geared to process all that is flung at us and draw meaning from it all. It is an age of excess, everything is available more than needed and we are not able to separate the meaningful from the garbage.

About the Art:
What can a very simple, salaried modest man from India achieve? Arguably anything he or she aspires and a fine example of the same is artist Nek Chand Saini. Mr. Saini worked in the Public Works Department as a road inspector. He started collecting waste and debris from building sites and other places in Chandigarh, India. He found a small clearing in a public owned forest where he stated his sculptural journey. He called it the land of gods and goddesses and painstakingly made sculpture out of this waste in the most ingenious manner.

The magic held by the garden can be experience at the entrance itself. A very dominating compound wall, with delicate ceramic birds atop it is an interesting contrast that sets the mood of the garden. One knows that inside there will be unexpected surprises and unimaginable wonders.

Nek Chand calls it a garden of gods and goddesses and he has absolutely no count of just how many figures he has crafted singularly. There are so many types of figures in so many different poses made out of unimaginable materials they one can only be in awe of this amazing artist.

Broken tiles, crockery, bangles, sanitary ware, electrical waste and just about anything that is trash is transformed into magical things by the touch of this great artist. He sees potential in just any object to transform into a thing of beauty and that is the most astounding part of his work. His is an untrained artist but his sense of proportion, placement, composition and architecture is beyond superior. 

These figures above have been conceived from bicycle seats. He has covered the seats with cement and treated it with mosaic work. The great Catalan artist Antonio Gaudi was one of the masters in this technique. Yet Nek Chand had neither seen nor was influenced by him. All his art is intuitive, a product of his own intellect and creativity.

What do we do with broken bangles and pieces of crockery? We trash them without giving a single thought. It is simply marvelous how a beautiful peacock can be crafted out of broken bangles! The whole idea, concept, treatment and final product leave us completely mesmerized. Nothing is useless and worth wasting for this artist.

Today Chand has funding from the government and has skilled staff who are working on the third phase of the garden. Nek Chand's secret Garden was discovered in 1975 and was even under treat of demolition for a while due to its illegal nature and bureaucratic methods of people with no vision or value for art. Thankfully the garden was retained and opened for public viewing. The garden sprawls across twenty five acres and is connected with tunnels, pathways and is dotted with waterfalls. 
He has won many accolades for his tremendous work including the Grande Medaille de Vermeil being conferred upon him. In 1983 a postal stamp of the rock gardens was issued and he was awarded the Padmashree as well by government of India.

Please read the following article about him in the links given :Article by Anton Rajer which appeared in The Folk Art Messenger, Volume 13, Number 1, Winter/Spring 2000


Sunday, January 4, 2015


Thought behind the thought:

Every generation feels that the generation preceding theirs was narrow minded and the generation following theirs is arrogant and has attitude problems. Well the truth really lies in what we got from our parents and what we are giving to our kids as our legacy. Attitude is not a garment we slip on but it the skin we live in. A couple of days back a colleague of mine was very concerned about the “attitude” of today’s students. I am quite certain I have heard the same thing said about us when we were studying. Who decides if attitude is right or wrong? Ones attitude is a vehicle in which the person travels towards his destination. Better the vehicle better are the chances of getting there. Also the vehicle needs to be suitable to the kind of journey one wants to embark on.

About the art:

Any children’s illustrated book is successful if the attitude of the character and the illustration match. While reading any such book we have a mental picture of the character. When we have an illustration that portrays the right attitude, an instant connection is made with the character.
Some examples of famous children’s book characters and their illustrations.

Captain Haddock is known for his alcoholism and temperamental nature. His character is portrayed to be weak, short-tempered, given to emotional expletive-ridden outbursts and capable of infuriating behavior. In illustrating this character Herge was inspired by the fiery temper of Tintin colourist E.P. Jacobs and the bluffness of Tintin artist Bob de Moor.

When Quentin Blake was illustrating Matilda, the most challenging character was Miss Trunchbull. The dreadful headmistress was really exaggerated by Roald Dahl, the author and the first drawings that Blake made had Miss Trunchbull wearing a shirt, collar and tie, belt and boots which made her look like a dictator. He was then given a picture of a person Dahl had in mind while creating the character. This led to the boots becoming shoes; her hair was tied in a fancy French hairdo. Her image of a former Olympic athlete who could now hold little girls by their pigtails and throw them into middle distance started becoming a plausible vision.

When Uderzo's first started sketching Asterix he somehow felt the need to portray him as a huge and strong traditional Gaulish warrior. Goscinny, the author, had visualized him differently. His vision of Asterix was that of a shrewd small sized warrior who would prefer intelligence over strength. Hence Uderzo pointed out that that perhaps a small sized hero needed a strong but dim companion to which Goscinny agreed. This was how the portrayal of Obelix was structured.

The characters of Archie Comics were created by publisher/editor John L. Goldwater, written by Vic Bloom, and drawn by Bob Montana. Montana was inspired by his friends, Skinny Linehan and Arnold Daggett while portraying Jughead Jones and Moose Mason respectively. School librarian Elizabeth Tuck inspired Miss Grundy and Principal Earl McLeod was the model for Mr. Weatherbee. Montana knew the Boston Brahmin political family the Lodges, because he had once painted a mural for them; he combined their family name with actress Veronica Lake to create Veronica Lodge. Betty Cooper was based on Montana's girlfriend in New York. Pop Tate's Chocklit Shoppe, a soda shop where Archie's Gang hang out, was based on Crown Confectionery and the Chocolate Shop on Merrimack Street and the Tuscarora on Winter Street in Haverhill.