Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Trees at Manikyavelu Mansion

As I walked through the sprawling rooms at the National Gallery of Modern Art at Manikyavelu Mansion, looking at the tiny, tentative, sometimes exquisite, always unfailingly polite works which represent early Indian Modern Art, my eyes kept travelling towards the window frames and what lay beyond it –

From the plum tree

From the plum tree

When I returned to the paintings on the wall, they had reduced themselves to faded lines on musty paper.
From the plum tree

I walked out onto the balcony
From the plum tree

From the plum tree

And wandered through
From the plum tree

From the plum tree

From the plum tree

Then I walked into the Contemporary Art section and looked through canvases of curious blobs, incongruous elements, angry brushstrokes and psychedelic colour all fraught with deep and intense meaning.

And then I sat down and looked up –
From the plum tree

And then I walked outside –
From the plum tree

And I saw -
From the plum tree

From the plum tree

From the plum tree

And I understood why my ancestors fell on their knees and worshiped trees.


the plasticgraduate said...

I was going to look up Manikyavelu Mansion on Wikipedia. So I googled it. My surprise at what was the first result.

mridula said...

beautiful post. what surprised you, plastic?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! And I agree, the trees are magnificent.

the plasticgraduate said...

@mridula: It's changed positions. But the Plum Tree was the top search result. Leading to a sort of recursion (Did you mean recursion?).

SloganMurugan said...


Hari Batti said...

Nice to see you back. These are impressive photos. (I've been working on a tree post and I've realized the standard is much higher now, having seen this...)

Is the plum treeII grafted on the old tree, or is it a whole new seed?

vineeta said...

I LOVED I LOVED the last few shots!! and the entire premise of your post :) leaner meaner- I agree :) no one does it like you :)

Meera Vasudev Srinivasan said...

Beautiful! Welcome back!

Juniper said...

Oh so nice to have you back! Your photos and words captured perfectly the allure of the greenery outside and of the building post.

Raaga said...


Shalini said...

What a gorgeous place. I love the contrast of the sleek lines of the corridors and windows and the wildness of the trees.

Aarthi said...

thanks for the beautiful photos....
Loved walking around :)

mixdbrew said...

Yippppppppeeeeeeeeee!! Sorry about this exultation, but I'm so happy to have you back! I missed your blog tons. And now you are back, with more beauty in your eyes :)

Karine said...

This post reminds me of a quote I once heard. I am quite certain it was Chagall who said something like "art is the increasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers, and never succeeding."
Nice to see you back in blogland.

Anonymous said...

beautiful thought.

Green Key said...

Hi Priya. This post reminded me of a poem by Mary Oliver, from her collection called "Thirst."

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

pRiyA said...

That is so beautiful Susan. Thank you for sharing it with me. This goes into my tumblr blog too, for inspiration.

flip side said...

This is one of my favourite poems: i think its quite famous.

Lost by David Wagoner.

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
must ask permission to know and to be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven,
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

I was reminded of the poem when i read your line about ancestors worshipping trees. They're fractal beauty, quite so in your pictures.

pRiyA said...

Thank you Flip Side. Yes, I have this poem collected inside one of my tumblr blogs:
It is a favourite poem I go back to again and again.

Prabha N. said...

This place is a true paradise...u can hear absolute silence amongst the ultra tall windows and the beautifully hung paintings. One can never get enough of it.