Saturday, February 7, 2015

the puppet

Thought behind the Thought

We think of puppets as things with no will and no mind of their own, don't we? And so much is said about man being a puppet at the hands of fate, with the God almighty pulling the strings! And then we feel helpless for all that happens to us and around us.

We feel that the Master controls the puppet, holding the strings firmly in his hands. But doesn't the puppet hold his attention, and his mind too? And isn't that being more in control? For while the master is at it, he can do little else.

All he can do is believe that he is holding the puppet while the puppet is holding his mind!

About the Art
Puppet theatre effectively uses lifeless things to portray the many colours of life. The involvement of the puppet artists who are actually behind the stage is as much, or even more than what it would have been if they were performing on it. The puppets, with their painted faces and costumes enact storylines and portray the emotions of the backstage performers.  Puppet making is a traditional craft practised in many cultures of the world, including India (wherte it is known as Kathputali)

The art and craft have survived for centuries, and are also a part of the contemporary art world. Do watch the amazing puppet performance on display in the video below.

Philippe Genty is a French writer and creator of theatre shows based on contemporary puppetry. The Compagnie Philippe Genty , founded in 1968 along with Mary Underwood, mixes in its shows various types of puppets, theater, dance, mime, games of shadows and lights, music and sounds. 

This is how he describes his creative process:

"Everything starts with writing and sketches. Very soon, I need to define the decor, which will immerse me in an environment, giving me possibilities and limitations. The decor is never realistic, it must be constantly evolving, thereby giving free reign to the spectator's imagination.

I've always had a strong aversion for side entrances. Characters suddenly appear on the stage, "from the subconscious", they evolve, they transform, and then they disappear. For a long time I wondered where this quasi-visceral refusal of off-stage entrances could come from. Maybe it's because in my dreams the characters never appear from the sides!"

Friday, February 6, 2015

art or not?

Thought behind the Thought
One thing that you can't miss if you are a traveller on Indian roads is the 'HORN OK PLEASE' sign painted on trucks, and the whole gamut of elements that go with it. Names of gods and godessess and prayers seeking their blessings for a safe journey, remembarances of family and friends, auspicious signs and symbols, philosophical musings, and at times, favourite film stars painted in all their colourful glory!

Is that art, or not? That is the question. If we shed our elitist definitions and think afresh, art is anything that expresses and communicates feelings, emotions, meanings. And it can express itself though any medium at any time, on any canvas that happens to be available.

Art just needs an excuse to set it's foot on the stage of life. Were it not so, Art could not have been born, leave alone survive on the dreary landscape of a Truck Traveller's life!

About the Art
The pictures say it all!

Truck art finds itself the subject of a documentary film!

do visit for the film and some very interesting research on truck art

Horn Please is a short film by directors Shantanu Suman and Istling Mirche, all about the bright and colourful hand-painted trucks that fuel India‘s massive goods transportation system. It is an insightful and captivating expose of this fascinating cultural phenomenon, touching on the history of truck painting in India, the significance of the designs and the lives of the painters and drivers. It also offers some differing points of view on the future of this specialised art form in the face of technological change.

A key distinction offered up in the film is the personal artistic nature of the truck paintings, versus the purely commercial motivations behind shop and other advertising signs. The pride and ownership of the truck paintings by the drivers themselves is something to behold, and it is this which brings such character and distinctive designs to the vehicles.

Source and Credit for information,

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Thought behind the Thought

Romances rarely last long! But while they do, they fill life with their delicate beauty, colour and vibrancy. Just like glass bangles! 
In India, glass bangles (choodi/chhora/bangdi) are a traditional form of jewelry that adorns a woman's arms. Bare arms are considered to be inauspicious as bangles are associated with a happy and prosperous married life. Earlier on, the bride would wear a green 'chooda' or set of bangles on her wrist as a part of the marriage rituals and she was considered a new bride, to be pampered and protected till her chooda was intact. This temporary phase gave her time to settle in her new household and learn to take up her duties and her place as the woman of the house.
The fragility and playfulness of glass bangles is fast becoming a thing of the past. The colourful radiance of these rings of light, however beautiful, seems to have lost the race to the pace of modern life, just like Romance!!!

About the Craft
The traditional craft of bangle making in India is demonstrated in this interesting video

Processing the Raw Glass
Raw glass is taken out of the furnace through the pipes. Without removing the pipes, the molten glass is beaten to make its dimensions equal.After this, the glass with the pipe is placed in an another furnace which has an automated roller. When this molten glass comes in contact with the roller, it starts stretching like a thread and rolls around it. In this process a spring of glass is formed. To make separate bangles, this spring is then cut with the help of a cutter of diamond. But, at this stage, these bangles have two ends, which need to be joined. Usually, this job is taken up by separate units.

The open ended bangles are given to the contractor, who takes the material to the workers for the joining process. Traditionally, this process of joining of bangles is termed as 'Judai'. Workers doing joining or Judai use simple chimney of kerosene connected with the air input, generated by simple air compressor, locally known as 'Pankha'. In one unit, as many as 15 to 20 chimneys are connected with one air compressor. Whole of the set-up is hand made.

The joined bangles pass through another process popularly know as 'Sadhai'. In this process, joints of bangles are made to look neat and straight. Here, the glass is made to melt. Application of little pressure joins both the ends. The job of sadhai is usually accomplished by women workers.

It may be noted that a large number of people are engaged with the work of Judai and Sadhai of bangles to earn their livelihood. These processes in itself forms another industry in the city of Ferozabad, the hub of glass bangles in India.

Word Art 
Bangles are fascinating and their visual appeal so strong, that it expresses itself as poetry through the genius of Sarojini Naidu, patriot, poet and an illustrous daughter of India.

The Bangle Sellers - by Sarojini Naidu

Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair...
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.

Some are meet for a maiden's wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow wth the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves

Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart's desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.

Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband's side.

Credit and Source of information

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

crush and 're form'

Thought behind the Thought
I was at a Handicrafts exhibition, when I discovered a Manipuri stall with wonderful black pots and pans. And a new form of craft that I had never heard of! The lady at the stall very enthusiastically explained how this unique pottery was crafted from stone, by crushing it to clay and then remoulding it by hand in to pots.
And I wondered as usual, about what it taught me - this process of converting  very hard, black stone in to amazing pottery!
That the stone has to give up it's hardness when it gets crushed to pieces. The very quality, that defines it's 'stone-ness'! But once it does, it lends itself to a very beautiful process of  're-fromation' and reinvents itself into something incredibly beautiful. You must really be ready to let your hardened self be crushed, so that you can become plastic and mouldable, and in the process recreate yourself.
And even if this crushing of self is due to external forces, one may look at it as an opportunity to 're form'.

About the craft
Manipuri stone pottery or 'Longpi' pottery as it is called, is a traditional craft that derives it's name from the Longpi village where the Thankul naga tribes practise this amazing traditional craft.

The origins of 'Longpi Ham' pottery technique are attributed to the Panthobi, the Godess of artifact making in the Ukhrul district of Manipur and represents the process of our creation. The pottery is used for both cooking and storing food.Believed to have medicinal values, it is also used for for performing rituals on festive occasions like the Luiri festival.

The material used in Longpi is made from a mixture of Black serpentite stone and weathered rock which are mixed in a three to one ratio. The weathered rock,a black stone with emerald green veins running through it (which one might take it for a semi-precious stone) is actually a piece of weather rock or ‘leshon lung’ out of which the tribals of Longpi have, for generations, hand crafted their cooking pots. It is part of tribal Manipuri identity and lifestyle.The serpentite stone provides the strength and the weathered rock acts as a binding agent in the clay mix.

The paste formed from these is then rolled by hand into desired shapes by using the 'coiled' method. Unlike most pottery, Longpi does not resort to the potter's wheel. All shaping is done with the hand and with the help of moulds. 

The process of moulding is unique. After a thorough kneading, a large slab is rolled out and shaped into a cylinder. The cylinder is placed on a circular board, which, in turn, is placed on a stool. The potter then actually moves around the clay himself, shaping and forming the pot. The pot is supported from the inside with a rounded stone and beaten to the desired shape and thickness. Great dexterity is required as the internal pressure and external movement must be well co-ordinated to produce a perfect pot. The pot is usually finished by rubbing the surface with the reddish-brown seed of a wild creeper and finally with bees wax.

The structures of saucer cups, kettle, frying pan, fruit bowls, cooking pot etc are put in a kiln and set on fire for around five to nine hours till it reaches 900 C. The pots are functional and, more often than not, black in colour, a result of the process followed and of the smoke stains while firing.

After the firing process is complete, it is polished with local leaves called pasania pachiphylla (‘Chiro Na’ in local lingo) which provides the luster to its surface. There is no use of chemicals, machines or wheel in the making of this pottery and hence its very hygienic. Its also known to prevent morning sickness for pregnant women.

Credits and source of information

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Thought behind the Thought
What is the starting point of creativity? Why does one create? And how? This is surely something that every creative person, who has experienced the agony and ecstasy of creation has gone through!
The process of creating is a complex series of events, or rather, bursts of activity in the creator's mind. A process that sometimes completely takes over the peaceful world and replaces it with a compulsive, chaotic, pulsating, complex world where emotions run high, and satisfaction runs low. A process that agitates, as well as stimulates.

About the art
The short film below takes one on a journey into the creative process, made by Mikey Please. The animator and director makes movies using mostly styrofoam. The familiar packing material  turns out to be a fabulous visual material, at once crisp and soft, an unusual, but exciting material to explore for animation.

Marilyn Myller, the 6 minute short takes a satirical view to artistry. The title character, Marilyn Myller, has great powers of creation; like Please, she crafts whole worlds out of glittery white foam. But to get anyone to notice her, Myller must turn a spontaneous moment in the studio into a neutered, replicable presentation. It's an arc any art student should recognize... that is if they can pay attention in the midst of all that magical styrofoam.

Source and Credit for Information

Monday, February 2, 2015


Thought behind the Thought

This quote is dedicated to my friend whose sensitive mind can reach the depths of anything! I continue to be amazed by her ability to think deeply about concepts and events and people, and find meaning where there is apparently, none!

And then I look at the world around, which seems to have stopped at the surface of everything. People do not want to even scratch the surface, leave alone unravel the depths of anything. What a shallow world, and what a priceless friend to have!

And I am sure that her explorations into the depth of things will help her scale the heights that she may not have even imagined! For, to scale the heights of a mountain peak,  one must have a good judgement of the depth of the valleys below.

About the Artist and his Art

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the first name that comes to my mind, when I say sensitivity and depth! Poet, writer, painter, musician, thinker, philosopher, educator, inspirer, Tagore remains one of the most influential of India's illustrious sons. Known as the person who gave us our National anthem, Tagore is and will always be remembered for his sensitivity, vision and expression.

Below are a few of his paintings (coloured ink on paper) and lines from 'Stray birds', his collection of short poems ( single lines and couplets). Just a few gems from the treasure he has left behind for us ....

 "Maiden, your simplicity, like the blueness of the lake, reveals your depth of truth."

"Woman, with the grace of your fingers you touched my things and order came out like music."

"Woman, in your laughter you have the music of the fountain of life."

 "I feel, thy beauty, dark night, like that of the loved woman when she has put out the lamp."

 Woman, thou hast encircled the world's heart with the depth of thy tears as the sea has the earth.

"This sadness of my soul is her bride's veil.

It waits to be lifted in the night."

"The sunshine greets me with a smile. The rain, his sad sister, talks to my heart."

" His own mornings are new surprises to God."

"The mist, like love, plays upon the heart of the hills and brings out surprises of beauty."

"The smell of the wet earth in the rain rises like a great chant of praise from the voiceless multitude of the insignificant."

"I Have dipped the vessel of my heart into this silent hour; it has filled with love."

Tagore himself, in his article 'My Pictures', explains his paintings as follows "The world of sound is a tiny bubble in the silence of the infinite. The Universe has its only language of gesture, it talks in the voice of pictures and dance. Every object in this world proclaims in the dumb signal of lines and colours, the fact that it is not a mere logical abstraction or a mere thing of use, but it is unique in itself, it carries the miracle of its existence. In a picture the artist creates the language of undoubted reality, and we are satisfied that we see. It may not be the representation of a beautiful woman but that of a common place donkey or of something that has no external credential of truth in nature but only in its own inner artistic significance.  

"People often ask me about the meaning of my pictures. I remain silent even as my pictures are. It is for them to express and not to explain. They have nothing ulterior behind their own appearance for the thoughts to explore and words to describe, and that appearance carries its ultimate worth. Then they remain, otherwise they are rejected and forgotten even though they may have some scientific truth or ethical justification. Love is kindred to art, it is inexplicable. Duty can be measured by the degree of its benefit, utility by the profit and power it may bring, but art by nothing but itself. There are other factors of life which are visitors that come and go. Art is the guest that comes and remains. The dithers may be important, but Art is inevitable."

In Tagore's own words, "The world speaks to me in colours, my soul answers in music". Obviously, the soul was very articulate with colours too. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Thought behind the Thought
Hands are magicians! They create, they make, they mould, they shape. They seem to have a mind of their own and go on creating endlessly. I wonder at times, if hands are more powerful than the mind, for what the mind can only imagine, hands can actually bring into reality!

Art, Craft and Design
Handicrafts celebrate and showcase this amazing power that hands possess. All cultures have their own handicrafts heritage. In India, we are fortunate to have a rich and diverse crafts tradition, that brings out creativity from the most ordinary people working with the most ordinary materials. Ordinary, not in the derogatory sense, but in the sense that hands have been creating such amazing works of art from seemingly everyday material.

Watch the film and follow this very interesting journey of the creative hands of India!

Source and Credit for information