Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Imitation of life

The Asialink Arts Residency, Program,@1Shanthiroad studio/gallery,Bangalore, India 2009 is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia-India Council which is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australia Council.

The recent work of Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley at 1.shanthiroad studio residency supported by Asia Link is called “Imitation of life”.Opening 21st Nov 6.30,on till26th Nov.

The show features a saree that has been designed with a camouflage print and another piece a traditional male underwear -langoti embellished with multinational symbols. They are emblematic and refer to the violence of our times. Centered around the uprising of the naxelite movement that unprecedented change in forest land acquisitions in the name of development that have systematically erased indigenous people from the land and cultural geography.

The process of using urban craft like the local welders, silk screen printers, tailors from the vicinity in this process makes this truly a collaborative effort by the artists with diverse handcrafted skills prevailing in the urban metropolis.

Despite the political associations they are fabrics that have not changed for centuries. The saree still is graceful, multidimensional ,uncut garment that is part of the living tradition of India. There have been many additions to the saree but the form is archetypal. One sees it as an architectural screen to deflect the gaze, a cradle to be hung like hammock to nurse a baby, a rope to escape an unbearable family and unfortunately as a rope for ending a life for a victim of domestic violence. By camouflaging the saree it the artist seem to empower and resist the timeless female garment.
suresh jayaram

The langoti on the other hand has been almost extinct in urban situations except for rural sectors and part of the traditions of local wrestlers, farm laborers and the working class. The wearing of this is associated with the control of male sexuality and possibly a phallo- centric developmental module. These fabric works are displayed on an urban mannequin and on a steel armature of an architecture pillar read labour. Locating the fabric of camouflage and very private undergarment of the Indian male is made public and embellished with symbols of buoyant economy. These interventions can be seen as part of the resistance to the country’s accelerated growth, that seems to bulldoze the agenda of the new economy leaving an inhuman trail of stories that will be unheard amidst the din of globalization.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009






We share a common cultural history, troubled past and a hopeful future. This is an opportunity to establish “people to people contact through visual artists’ wit our neighbors.

This is another attempt to bring two countries and individuals together to foster conversations across cultures. The significant aspect of this program is to create conducive situations for artists to have conversation, learn from each other and get to know social and cultural contexts.

1Shanthiroad studio will open a new window to know BRITTO, two organizations with similar objectives. We will connect and nurture friendships and artistic collaborations for the future.



Melting Pot

The notion of movement is not unfamiliar to me. The place I live in is a picture blurred by never ceasing activity- a melting pot of various cultures and traditions brought by people who have come far away and made this place their home. When I was invited to be part of this KHOJ Project with a Bangladeshi Artist, the first thought that occurred to me was about the place I live and work in, where several migrant goldsmith communities live. They come here bearing their unique skill, the use of delicate hands to turn a piece of metal into fine jewellery; a craft which has been passed down over generations. They come mostly for survival; I wonder if it could also be for survival of their craft. Some are also Bangladeshi immigrants who conceal their identities to merge into our society.

In the Shanthiroad Studio, I chose to work in the kitchen which was almost empty. I moved out the few things that were there; the space carried the resonance of absence.

Every year the pot used to melt gold in my father’s workshop would be discarded for a new one. The old one was used to grow plants by my mother – krishna tulsi, nishagandhi, hibiscus, marigolds…thus taking on a new form. Hardened by the fire, it now held a living thing; plants which reminded her of home, the fragrance of the cinnamon tree in her backyard. The cinnamon is also reminiscent of a colonial past.

My grandfather, a goldsmith, came here in search of work many years ago, like so many others. This part of the city is now called ‘old city’. For people who have lived here for years, it is the only city they know. From here the city grew, I wonder if I have become a stranger to it, or if the city is unrecognizable now. Cobblestone paths have given away to concrete roads; what is left of the old architecture is now but a pile of rubble.

I picked up these pieces of flesh, which contain several fossilized layers- smell, touch, sound, memory and loss. I etched on them with my goldsmith tools, marks like a prayer and placed it in the kitchen.

2) Mohammad Hasanur Reaz

The opportunity to come to Bangalore was exciting for me. I wished to explore Bangalore and the contemporary art scene. I was ambitious and planned to work in local stone and later tried to look for objects and materials that resonates my concerns.

My interaction with Prabhavathi, the collaborating artist, was an interesting situation to locate myself in a context of Bangalore. Prabha comes from a traditional goldsmith family was a fascinating experience I visited her studio and interacted with her migrant Bengali neighbors who have made Bangalore their home. I was questioning the reasons for the migration of labour and the struggle for livelihoods.

My concerns include the political reality in our countries, the struggle for survival and the constant hope for utopia. Like many others I wish to dream of a new utopia. I visited Pondicherry and was inspired by the Auroville and the charter for the global village. This is reflected in my representation of the idea of Matri Mandir. I want to know if this was a solution for a new reality. My visit to the Golden bridge pottery was another inspiration to acknowledge the triumph of labour and craft skills. And the ability to create a sustainable model for creative studio practice.

Can we move away from the dominant discourse of globalization and the logic of development? In our own south Asian context I wish to be part of the search of a new universalisms and world view, which sustains our traditions and cultures that, are rooted in the vernacular.

I quote:

“…it is here in the cosmologies of cultures, here with peoples on the peripheries that we must seek the beginnings of an alternative discourse. It is here perhaps, that the notion of the sacred survives. to return the spiritual to the material and the ethical to the political. The one central mountain”

-Corinne Kumar, Universalisms In Political Discourse- in “Asking we walk”-the south as new political imagery.

Urban memory with the smell of cinnamon

-Suresh Jayaram

We visited Prabhavathi’s studio in the old part of Bangalore. Here the sounds of last surviving silk weaving homes and gold jewelers survive amidst the bustle of the city. Prabha lives in a close net family with living traditions of making gold. Her Father migrated to Bangalore and was the first among the Malayali jewelers who established themselves here. The craft of the jewelers “thatans” in Kerala is much respected for the intricate designs that adorn women and men. They continue to use time tested patterns to fashion jewelers for many communities that believe in the custom of buying jewelry as a ritual necessarily and an investment.

Prabha has been passionately exploring the revival of panel painting with gesso; she patiently layers wood surfaces with limestone to create a surface that becomes her canvas. Line drawings have been her forte, a language revived from the many traditions of miniature painting she has researched. Her lineage can be traced to the Bengal school and the contemporary adaptation by well-known artist Nilima Sheikh. The artists draws from the pan Asian tradition of lyrical lines and patterns that trace the elements of nature and the fragments of female subjectivity that suggest desire, loss, hope and personal narratives that are more poetic evocations.

Prabha takes her drawings and mark making to another level, she believes in subtlety and suggestion, “dhavani” an important element of Indian aesthetics that believes in suggestion rather than statement. This device becomes the essence of her recent installation at the Khoj collaborative project at 1Shanthiroad. She chose a minimal space that is used by artist as a living space with a small kitchenette adorned with local grey granite. The bed hangs above like a loft, a series of concealed cupboards open up another world of storage and mystery.

The artist’s intervention is subtle and dramatic. She makes marks using charcoals to suggest soot from the kitchen. The empty kitchen is adorned by a terracotta pot that is used to smelt gold by her father. It suggests other urban uses like pots for plants that line her terrace garden tended by her mother in memory of the verdant backyard of her Kerala home. All this is accentuated by the smell of cinnamon that wafts in the room. The artist suggests through absence and recollects the smell of cinnamon trees and its colonial history in the spice route.

The most dramatic and bold gesture is the spill of debris that has been collected from the old city. These are palimpsests of homes, painted with sweet colored distemper of middle class homes. Prabha looks at them as fragments of bodies that bear witness to the change and conflict of a city that struggles to grapple with its new found global climb. Now citizens cling to rituals and traditions of livelihoods that are gradually erased by rampant migration. Prabha assets herself by using her fathers chisels to embellish these fragmentary walls with delicate abstract patterns. These are her haikus without words, she leaves marks to claim her identity from the by lanes of the city she lives and loves.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Contemporary Asian art

Contemporary Asian art: where can you find it? What makes it “Asian”? What makes it “contemporary”?

Since the early 1990s, the lineaments of international contemporary art have been transformed by the emergence of dynamic “new” art cultures in Asia and other parts of the non-Euroamerican world. This illustrated lecture seeks to situate the production of these “new” practices in terms of modernist histories in several Asian contexts, and their consumption and dissemination under the cultural politics of art institutions—museums and biennales—in a constantly shifting “international” arena.

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Chaitanya Sambrani completed his masters degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda, and his PhD at the Australian National University, Canberra, where he is Senior Lecturer in Art Theory. Among other things, he teaches courses on modernist and contemporary art practice across India, Indonesia, China and Japan.

Dialog with Chaitanya Sambrani

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Progress in Tibet Project

The teams from 1.Shanthi Road and Think Tibet have been meeting regularly to discuss, follow up and assign tasks.

We had made one visit to the Tibetan settlement at Bayalukuppe and had preliminary discussions with the Chief Representative there. We had a tour of the settlement and identified elements to be used in our exhibition. The Think Tibet team had also been collating information for a book publishing project and it gave us a head start to the project.

In the last few weeks, we have worked on

• Research – interviews of Tibetans in Bangalore and in neighboring settlements
• Travels to settlements for research and documentation
• Planning and design of the exhibition space
• Assigned all collaborators their tasks with deadlines.
• Collaborating with local artists and craftspeople for the exhibition
• Fabrication of material such as prayer wheel, terracotta lamps, wooden stands

We are also working towards a bi-lingual publication (English/Kannada (local language)).

We have contacted authors to translate important essays and poems on Tibet.
The Think Tibet Team visited Bayalukuppe – the Tibetan settlement, to finalize the Mandala painters, Flag makers and the handicrafts center.
1Shanthiroad was communicating with the Dharamshala settlement in North India to participate in the event. Unfortunately, currently they are preoccupied and unable to be part of this program.
We are working with the design team to finalize publicity material for the event. We are also hoping to raise a small amount to justify the excess cost of inviting monks to create the Mandala.
We are also collaborating with Bangalore Film Society(BFS) and Alliance Francaise in furthering this project in the early days of July month.

Images of the project can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/organize/?start_tab=one_set72157619228429080

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Forthcoming Project at 1Shanthiroad

1Shanthiroad Studio in collaboration with Think Tibet Organization is working on a project that marks 50years of Tibetans in exile. Project titled "Phayul Meyul - Touch, Hear, Smell, Taste, See Tibet" focuses on the Tibetan settlements in South India.

Brief of the Project:

In 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet escaped the Chinese invasion and sought refuge in India. Thousands of Tibetans followed their leaders into exile, braving the elements and more importantly the threat to their lives if caught by the Red Army. By 1960, there was a sizeable population in India with no home to go to. The then Chief Minister of Karnataka, S.Nijalingappa came forward to offer land for settling the Tibetan refugees and the first Tibetan settlement in exile came up at Bylakuppe near Coorg.

These are four settlements in Karnataka today - Bylakuppe which is the largest Tibetan settlement in exile, Mundgod near Hubli, Kollegal and Hunsur. Bangalore is home to students, youth who work in city, and seasonally sweater sellers.

Many monks and nuns have found the freedom to practice their spiritual calling in the monastries and nunneries here. The three most important monastries in Tibetan Buddhism - Sera, Drepung and Gaden - are located in Karnataka with a strength of over 15,000 monks. The settlements are agriculture - based and the people continue to farm the land that was allotted 50 years ago. Unfortunately, that is not always sufficient to sustain a livelihood and some take up seasonal sweater selling. The Tibetan settlements are a marvelous display of resilience and sheer survival of a culture while remaining on the fringes of another community. Prayer flags line the landscape as surely as they did in the mountains of Tibet and on quiet morning, the collective chanting of the monks can be heard as they once did in Tibet.

In Bangalore,however, Tibetans live in insulated pockets. The sweater sellers, probably the most visible face of the community for the Indians, descend from the settlement in Orissa every winter. They are allotted designated areas in Majestic, National Market and Shivaji Nagar. And unlike others who are able to go 'home' to the settlements for the Tibetan New Year, the sweater sellers spend it in this bustling, cosmopolitan city that rarely stops to ask what the Tibetan is doing here so far from home.

This collaborative project will make visible the community and their struggle. It will be curated as a participatory project. The viewer will experience Tibet through the senses and will be treated to a sensory experience of Tibetan culture. We wish to create a multimedia installation at 1Shanthiroad for the local Tibetan Community and the people of Bangalore.

We also wish to use culture specific material, images, objects, food, smell to assault the senses. This is an attempt to work with Tibetans who we encounter but never had the opportunity to interact and understand. We wish to locate Tibetan Culture in the contemporary.

We also wish to use culture specific material, images, objects, food, smell to assault the senses. This is an attempt to work with Tibetans who we encounter but never had the opportunity to interact and understan. We wish to locate Tibetan culture in the contemporary context of a global struggle for freedom, equality and human rights. The artists will collaborate with the Tibetan community and activists to construct this multi-dimensional site specific event.

This project is supported by ANA - Arts Network Asia.

About Collaborators:

1 Shanthi Road.

VAC administers 1ShanthiRoad Studio/Gallery, an informal alternative space for the visual arts, creative collaborations, and new-media experimentation.This space has the advantage of being specifically designed to accommodate diverse art practices. And has been actively supporting alternative programs and art residencies. It has successfully contributed to make the visual art scene in Bangalore what it is today. But the current crisis is the need to sustain this space, provide basic infrastructure and salaries to working staff. The mission of 1 shanthiroad is to engage people working now into the space, and to develop a programming of shows, performances. curated projects, events, readings, and other gatherings to build momentum as a group of people interacting and collaborating together.

Think Tibet

Think Tibet was set up with two fundamental objectives: to be a resource for young Tibetans in exile to learn about their society and culture in the face of constant change; to create awareness about the Tibetan people in the local community. The avenues to achieve these objectives are largely the arts – through art collaborations, theatrical workshops and productions, books for children and events that encourage dialogue and understanding of a community in exile.

Monday, May 11, 2009



“Among the many relationships that define the human condition, the individual’s connection to the environment is primary. The elemental background against which all our activity is played out, nature is the biggest of the big pictures. We worship and loathe it, sanctify and destroy it. Birth, death and all that is graceful and vicious between, sit comfortably within the natural web. We singular creatures’ also bloom and rot on its vast matrix, but the combination of our ambition and out gift makes us want more than simply to survive. We aspire to leave our mark, inscribing our observations and gestures within the landscape, attempting to translate and transgress the space within which we find ourselves.”

The structure of trees has been the first lessons for evolution of architecture. The pillar and the beam were adapted to be load bearing structures. The artist reconstructs the process of fashioning pillars that support flyovers. And through this process, he reminds us about the depleting trees in the urban landscape.

We explore nature in body and in mind. Humans have a unique ability to share landscape; they are not just a figure in landscape but the catalyst of change.

As Girjesh Kumar Singh exhibits his latest installation T-transformations, the walls of the historic Lalbagh garden have been pulled down to make way for the Metro. The transformation of the urban landscape of Bangalore has inspired the artist to create this body of work. The tree trunk used in this work is from trees that have been felled to accommodate the changing needs of an unplanned city.

This show is part of the residency programme supported by VAC Visual Art Collective to support young artists to work in Bangalore at 1.Shanthiroad studio gallery, Bangalore.

Review of the show:

Art Talk
Marta Jakimowicz

“T-Transformation”, Girijesh Kumar Singh’s show culminating his residency at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (May 8 to 11), has works done in a number of media, that together bring out different but complementary aspects of the subject and the young artist’s response.

Sculpted trees

“T-Transformation”, Girijesh Kumar Singh’s show culminating his residency at 1 Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery (May 8 to 11), has works done in a number of media, that together bring out different but complementary aspects of the subject and the young artist’s response.

What one gets on one’s own is the inherent and persistent interdependence between the natural material of wood from trees and the art made of it, while the sculptor admits his memory of, and his respect for the organic source. Between a photographic composition forming a loose grid of branch fragments amid flowers with foliage and a large wall drawing silhouetting an old tree whose twigs gradually filter and thin out, there stands a dense row of taller and shorter pillars - some blackish of their bark and some light-coloured without it - that retain the residual shape of the tree crown branching out.

The video as if documents the process of transposing the natural into the artful to be placed in the gallery.

It should be appreciated that Singh is able to evoke the dynamism of the act and the meaning it imparts on the changed substance and shape, as well as the continuance of the former in the finished work, which he does with a pregnant simplicity and a rawness that suits the wood material.

It is only after knowing that the show was triggered by the sight of Lal Bagh trees being cut down for a metro station, that the spectator comes to associate the truncated bifurcations of the wooden pillars in the gallery, with the structure of immense concrete supports for urban flyovers or railways.

Even though, or perhaps precisely because, such recognition takes time and the artist’s words to happen, it stays with the viewer with its understated seriousness.

It lets one also return to the first impression about the link between the live, organic tree and the artwork as such, reminding us through sensation, rather than intellectual definition, that we always exist somewhere around things primeval or basic and constructed both into art and into civilised technology. If the inevitability of destruction is necessary for art and for development, one can intuit there a kind of rebirth in the latter, although a tone of nostalgia or regret threads through.

published for Deccan Herald dated 11th May, 2009 http://www.deccanherald.com/content/1848/art-talk.html

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bangalore Karaga-Mapping the Mallige


My work has been closely connected to nature in the urban context. I am concerned about its fragile ecosystem surviving amidst the global climb of the cyber city. While my work is prompted by concerns related to Bangalore and how I occupy it, my images seek the local amidst the global city sensibility. It is a search for an identity. I wish to continue this search by working with the idea of horticulture and the role it has played in the migration of people, seeds and species. I would like to record topographical details of the city seen as a map, the location and design of public parks, specifically the history of Lalbagh and Cubbon Park and the transformation of the sacred and the civic. I wish to draw from urban studies, cultural geography, sociology and anthropology. I wish to study the performative aspects of ritual Karaga as the largest urban carnival as a point of departure to seek an identity for the self and the city.

My overarching interest is in cultural landscape studies, an emergent and change in landscape and urban planning as a field concerned with the history, form, and meaning of ordinary built environments, particularly in Bangalore. I study the ways in which people have used space like parks, lakes, public gardens to articulate social relations and to derive cultural meaning.

I saw a vinyl poster of politicians who I didn’t recognize welcoming every one to this city festival. I wondered how I had witnessed many Bangalore Habbas that hardly represented this special community and the ritual dance of Karaga? Very few of my friends who had migrated to the city and made it their home were interested in the city’s history and local cultural context. I was witnessing a carnival that was a proud reclamation about identity of gardeners, who fashioned this city’s landscape. The glitz of the city lights had dimmed their significance of the vernacular identity and they could reclaim it for a night.

How does a city retains it’s identity amidst the global flux? Can Bangalore claim an identity that can define it’s origins as a “garden City”? And what was my role in If there is one ritual that establish this identity, it is the annual festival of Karaga celebrated on Chitra Poornima,the full moon night of spring by a small but significant community called the Vahnikula Kshathriyas or Thigalas.It was here that I came to discover this community, to recollect from memory the spaces, rituals that were part of my childhood. The location was the old Dharmaraja temple in Thigalrapete literally in the heart of the city. These by lanes are clogged with unplanned urban sprawl, chaotic one ways, cow sheds, weaving factories all coexisting in the pete area. I could only drive a bike or safely walk. My pace was slower as I was lost in the maze of people waiting for the Karaga, the anticipation was tense, the religious fervor was in the air. I was very suspect of organized religion but believed in the strength of spirituality and faith.

Bangalore’s original geographical boundaries originate here, the circumbulations of the Karga defines the pete from the cantonment. The Sampangi tank near Cubbon Park is an important water body were the Karaga originates. It is here that the man who carries the karga ritually bathes. This festival establishes the sthalapurana of civic areas and its original identity- the karaga Jatre.

My references from art history and cultural theory described Karaga as originally a Dravidian festival celebrating Adishakthi-the mother goddess cult that is prevalent in southern India. Like all minor tradition it has been overpowered by the Aryan and Bramanical tradition. The local myth is connected to the more popular Mahabharatha. Draupadhi the heroine is seen as a manifestation of the mother godess- Adishakthi and is icon graphically related to fire and Shakthi.This folk form that originated in villages of Tamil nadu as Karagatam is a form of worshipping Mariamman for good health and rain. It has evolved into the present form in Bangalore as a classical form with rich patronage of wealthy farmers and landowners who belong to the community. The most primordial form of shakthi worship is in the form of a an earthen pot-kalasha or poorna kumbha the pot of plenty. This is ritually decorated like a shikara with decorative ornaments like golden chathri, auspicious vaishnava symbols like the shanku,chakra,and patakas-flags.The human becomes divine, man transforms into goddess by night. The urbanspace becomes a sacred space. The karaga is balanced on the head and karaga bearer is reborn from the fire of consciousness and is transformed beyond gender

The other interesting reference is to gender differences as superficial physical forms

This gender transformation is the most fascinating part of this festival and originates in many performing arts. The karaga carrier undergoes a physical and psychological transformation, the profane human become divine and sacred trough the ritual vratha, he practices abstinence and is away from his family. In the process of transformation he wears his wife’s mangal sutra, turmeric dyed sari and is clean shaven. The human body becomes the moving shrine, the karaga is guarded by the valorous veerakumara, men with bare chests and swords are the signs of masculinity. They display their valor by holding swords and striking it against their bare chests. they are guardians to the goddess. They accompany the Karaga and guard it through the route, displaying their strength by barging through the crowds, pushing people in the way and making space for movement of the Karga. And these veerakumars are supposed to behead the karaga carrier if he fails to balance it.

The cross-dressing has interesting references in the Mahabharatha, the valorous Arjuna transforms into Brihanala. Gender metamorphosis is common in Hindu purans

Although women watch the spectacle and carry decorated arathis adorned with jasmine, frangipani and gulmohar ,flowers that have blossomed in the season in the local Cubbon Park. The Karga jatre is closely linked to the local gymnasium called Gardemane or akada and plays an important part of the Jatre. The rehearsals and training of the body to carry the karaga happens here. The community is very hierarchal and patriarchal and perform individual duties as part of their hereditary lineage’s had lost touch with many relatives who invited me for many family functions, I had politely avoided them. Now was the time to visit them to understand my roots and the culture of the city that I belong, beyond the vast and uniform concept of globalization the local was more rooted, authentic andI wish to locate myself and my work as a visual artist and an historian here on terra firma.

This vernacular Jatre transformed the cultural landscape/geography of the city. The participation of all communities and the transformation of the busy streets into an urban carnival. As I walked on the night of Karage one can see vendors of eatables, fruit, flowers, toys, tattoos artists, astrologers, and many more. The locals from different parts of Bangalore and other districts converge for this all night carnival. The shops that sell computer spare parts and electronic goods do

I later visited the sufi shrine in Cubbonpete,a sacred sufi shrine of Dargah-e-Shariff of Harzart Takwal Mastan,an 18 centurry sufi saint,who was hurt during a Karga procession and was healed by the Temple priest, after his death he wished that the Karaga procession stopped over at the dargha. This was a secular gesture that fostered faiths beyond religion, and is one of the few instances of inter religious interactions in the city. In these times when conversations and gestures of faith can bring people to trust one another. There were many from different faiths that belived that the taveez tied in this shrine warded the evil eye. I was moved by photographs of the karaga being offered flowers and arthi by the Muslim priest at the darga and welcomed with sprinkling of rose water. In our age of suspicion and fundamentalism and very few instances of inter-religious dialogue continue to survive.. The syncritic ritual of the Karaga can be traced to the close social connections with the local muslims and the Thigala community. The Darogas- official gardeners of Hyder Ali and Tippu sultan collaborated in the horticultural enterprise of cultivating Lalbagh. This was also a period of the local sufi saint Mastan Saheb. As traders of local farm produce in the Krishnrajendra market and the local fruit and flower mandis are muslims and locals there has to be a close affinity with the community. The shrine is significant for hindus who believe in the sufi’s power to ward of evil and protect children.

The cult of Draupadhi thrived in the by lanes that sold soft ware for the computer industry. The identity of silicon valley. IT and BT capital. The city corporation offices were round the corner, the locals desired clean roads, foot paths and civic eminites that bogged our existence. But when my grand mother had mention that the silver Jubilee park and the vicinity was a an orchard I listen with amazement. The rural landscape had transformed from landscape to real estate. The city grew aimlessly through modernization and development that was unprecedented and unplanned. The farming Tigalas were most effected as they moved to greener pastures in the out skirts of the city, around lakes and tanks to cultivate flowers and vegetables. They were loosing out there farmland to city developers and real estate sharks. The only way to reclaim the city was through rituals that connected them to timeless mythology of the Mahabharatha and make Drupadhi their goddesses through myth, masquerade they evoked the goddess to come home as they waited with arathis and lemons to be blessed by the godesss of fire, they occupied and reclaimed the land that belonged to the community and gave the city who once upon a time gave it its identity but was soon lost.

I waited in the by lanes to catch the magical moment when the karaga appeared through the river of people, she stopped to dance in one corner, stood to bless waiting people.The sight of women ,sleepy children men from all walks of life waited with folded hands with jasmine flowers to sprinkle from terraces as the karga made its way in all its pomp and splendor. the veerkumars pushed and made way as the trumpets announced the uncharted walk. There was a human barricade to protect the goddess in this frenzy of people who pushed and pulled. Suddenly the white shikara appeared in the crowd, people strained to catch a glimpse from the maddening crownds. Trumpets, counches and bells were reaching a crescendo, it rained white jasmine as the karage brushed past me in the crowd my hair stood on end and it took my breadth away. I was feeling the frenzy in my pulse I was lost as myth, memory, past and present collapsed in the aura of a man who was a goddesses for the night and soon it was morning and another day.

Suresh Jayaram

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nature/ Culture Walk


The Nature and Heritage walk at Lalbagh, is an attempt to look at the familiar in a new perspective. Many of us have seen the sites Lalbagh offers us, enjoyed the bi-annual flower shows. Or just being regular walkers in this historical lung space of the city. On the summit of the Lalbagh rock is the Kempegowda watch tower, an important vantage point to survey the city in a significant Landmark in the history of making of the City of Bengalooru. Incidentally, this is also the place where the British artists like Robert Colebrooke, Claude Martin, James Hunter and Robert Home, recorded the Sultan’s cypress garden, the pettah beyond, and the droogs in the distance.


According to popular tradition, this is one of the four watch towers, said to have been built by Kempegowda of Magadi (1521-1569) and predicted the limits of Bangalore. The other three towers in the cardinal directions are situated in Gavipuram, near Gavigangadhareshwara Temple, overlooking the Kempambudi Kere,Ulsoor lake,Ramana Maharishi Park.This spot became a convenient spot for many Painters to compose landscapes of the city.Later the mantapa has become the insignia of the Bangalore City Corporation.

A Brief History:

The making of Lalbagh, has a long pre-colonial history, which connects the site to Hyder Ali (1761 – 82) and Tippu Sultan (1782 - 99). During this period the garden was maintained by a Daroga (Chief Gardner) named Mohammed Ali. Lalbagh came into possession of East India Company’s Botanist Major Waugh. This was also the period when horticultural community of Thigalas were brought here.

The walk intends to enlighten you with the historical, botanical, horticultural details that have made Bangalore as the chosen site for experimentation and exploration in horticulture. The concept of the garden as seen by the British as a public space connected to a zoo and museum

When we look at the designing the Lalbagh in the colonial era there was a conscious decision to construct. the landscape with an ‘Clasical style’. The axis was a predominant marker that defined the space, their was an appreciation of balance, symmetry and geometry, sit on the opposing end of the spectrum from English garden design. Where formal gardens find beauty in linearity, English gardens use undulating lines. Where formal gardens seek right angles, English gardens use few, if any, angles. This was not only a political decision but also an aesthetic one ,it literally ploughed through the sultan’s garden or the “char bagh”. The larger plan included a Glasshouse- arborium,fountain,bandstand,topiary etc.


F important people have extensively contributed for the development of Lalbagh

John Cameron

John Cameron is regarded as the ‘Father of Horticulture’ in Karnataka. His achievements are numerous and multifaceted. He enriched the plant wealth of Lalbagh by introducing countless native and exotic plant species, many of which later assumed the status of commercial crops like apple, guava, carrot, radish etc. It’s the idea of John Cameron who conceived the idea of constructing a conservatory (glass house) for acclimatizing exotic plants and also for holding flower shows. Accordingly, the ‘Albert Victor Conservatory’ (the present Glass House’ was erected during 1889 – 90. John Cameron also started a zoo at Lalbagh on systematic lines, mostly for entertainment to the children. It during his tenure that the Lalbagh tank was also built in 1890. The original area of Lalbagh, which was hardly 40acres, increased to almost 100 acres due to his efforts.

G.H. Krumbiegel

Recognizing the work at Kew Garden, London, the authorities sent Krumbiegel to the post of curator of the Botanical Garden at Baroda. It is his service here that brought him down to the south. He was invited by Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore, to serve his kingdom. In the year 1908, G.H. Krumbiegel succeeded John Cameron. He introduced several species of plants into Lalbagh and was responsible for Banglore’s serial blossom – ‘Ritusamhara’. His other contributions includes laying out important parks and gardens including the .Brindavan Gardens at K.R.S, Mysore.


Rao Bahadur H.C.Javaraya entered his service as Botanical Assistant at Lalbagh, Bangalore in the year 1918. During the tenure of Mr.Javaraya, the eastern wing of the Glass House was erected during 1935. During the late 30’s, a ‘lantern shaped’ guard tower was erected at the Basavanagudi gate of Lalbagh.He was appreciated by Sir.Mirza Ismail, the Dewan of Mysore. He was instrumental in creating an artificial cascade named as Jaya Cascade. He also started the Maddur fruit orchard, Ganjam Fig Garden and the Government Fruit Research Station at Hesarghatta. He was also responsible for establishing the royal fruit orchards – Madhuvan, Mysore. He was awarded the prestigious fellow of The Linnean Society of London.


Elevated the Dept. of Horticulture into a major department and expanded the activities in the state. He was responsible to start 380 farms all over the state. He modernized the horticulture with the backing of scientific laboratories and introduced many indigenous and exotic species into Lalbagh.He advocated dry land horticulture and made Karnataka, the horticulture state of India.

*Text Source: Glass House- The Jewel of Lalbagh, The Lalbagh Glass House centenary souvenir, Mysore Horticulture Society. Published 1991

This walk is initiated by the Goethe.Institut,Max Muller Bhavan.Bangalore as part of their project-BCP-BANGALORE CITY PROJECT.

Special thanks to Dr.S.V.Hittalmani.

Additional Director of Horticulture.(Fruits) Lalbagh.

Harish Padmanabha

Suresh Jayaram- Co-ordinator,www.1.shanthiroad@gmail.com.

Visual art colletive,Bangalore archives project-Urban landscapes

Maria Vedder at 1 Shanthiroad & MMB

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An evening with Julia Sand

Julia Sand from Germany was at the 1 Shanthiroad Studio for a period of 3weeks. The stay was concluded by an artist open studio where Julia, introduced the visitors to her works