Monday, December 17, 2012

The Gorilla's skull and the Paper hunt

Gorilla's skull. 39x27inches. Charcoal on recycled paper.

When I walked into my studio this morning and stared at the wall, I wondered what had gotten into me last night. I swear it wasn't a sugar high because I am off chocolate these days. Some artists draw beautiful flowers, others draw buxom women and I draw these...... things. 
When I came across a photograph of a Gorilla's skull while browsing through my Tumblr dashboard, I knew I had to make a drawing of it in charcoal. The strong lines of the skull appealed to me and lent themselves so well to charcoal. 

To do this, I used the biggest paper I could find - a sheet of 'recycled paper' that I got from Sultanpet. Nearly all the papers sold in Sultanpet are either called 'recycled' or 'handmade' and drawing on the paper brought back lots of memories of yet another unforgettable adventure with Suhas and Nishil last month.

Sultanpet sells paper. All kinds of paper. They sell it like cloth and they sell it wholesale. If you wonder what on earth these decorated sheets are used for, (non-indians) your first guess of gift wrapping  is wrong. These papers as most of us here will know, are used for highly embellished Indian Wedding Invitations which match the ostentatious weddings that happen around us all the time. 
Very few shops will even look at us 'freelancers' as they only bother with businessmen who buy in bulk. Bulk is how everything is sold in that side of town. The indefatigable Suhas as always knew where to go and took us on a death defying walk where we dodged lorries, men pushing carts, carrying enormous loads of paper on their backs, whizzing bikes, people scurrying on business missions... Here are some of the pictures of Sultanpet during the saner moments of our 'walk' where I could actually pause and take some pictures. These are the areas of Bengaluru that we don't actually 'see' everyday. As Suhas pointed out, this is where you actually see 'hard labour', where people do back breaking work just so that they can feed themselves and exist. Every city everywhere in the world has these areas. They are the arteries that feed the main city.

Here is a paper shop. He was a newbie guy in the business who was very polite to us. Most of the other shops were arranged like godowns but his shop was more like a sari shop.

I staggered behind Suhas (who knew the area like the back of his hand) and begged him to take me to a saner place. (Kaapaadi Suhas!). Teeming crowds have their charms but only for a while.

We squashed ourselves in an auto and hurtled towards sanity...

Courtyard cafe :) an oasis of serenity

Flowers growing on the table

and refreshing iced tea

Everyone needs a friend like Suhas. He knows all the best places to eat, always orders the best food on the menu, knows the best things to do, the best watering holes in the city, the most interesting people....etc etc etc and all this comes packaged with lots of kindness and a great sense of humour. 

And that is how I got sheets of 27 inches x 39 inches of 'recycled' paper to draw the Gorilla's skull.

Worth the adventure!

So this blog post got read by one of the editors at The Hindu and I got asked about my experience for this very nicely written article about Sultanpet over here>>>