Her telltale grinding stones portray changing lifestyles
They were once the key accessory of many a south Indian home. But today, these kitchen grinding stones have given way to modern gadgets, unmindful of the memories attached. That's what Bangalore-based artist Sheela Gowda seeks to portray with her installation, titled Stopover.
At the historic Aspinwall House, Godwa's installation for the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale, along with Christoph Storz from Switzerland, is a random display of 170 of these grinding stones she has transported from the Karnataka capital to this town.
"These grinding stones, have literally been uprooted and pulled out of homes," said Gowda, who has earned fame for her works that use simple mediums such as vermillion, cow dung, printed textiles and charred wood.
"They were once thought to be unmovable parts of homes and lives. There is a lot of history, so much memory. Now they get shoved out of the house - thrown out to the street and they become invisible," she added, while explaining her work and what it symbolises.
Born at Bhadravati in Karnataka 1957, Gowda had studied art and painting at the Ken School of Art in Bangalore, Visva Bharati at Shantiniketan and the Royal College of Art in London.
She is deeply rooted in herself, which reflects in her choice of simple, daily-life mediums that include oil barrels, human hair and ash.
Her works include "Indian Highway" where huge drums obtained from roadside labourers have been converted into dark huts to symbolise the makeshift homes of these workers.
Once inside, the tiny holes on the ceiling make it look like a starry night sky - the limited space, thus, becomes infinite.
Another of her celebrated works is "Of All People" installed in 2011 at the Institute of International Visual Arts at Rivington Palace in London that seeks to draw a human being's association with space and time.
For this, she used door frames, windows and a table upside down to create space, thousands of little wood pieces with three marks to denote humans and pedestals as a correlation with individual identities.
(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)