The Whispering Garden

29 November 2016 to 04 December 2016

Venue: Artisans'


View works on display

Exhibition Information

Most modern art deals with humans and the world they live in. Shruti Nelson reasons that humans are not the centre of the universe, and the mysteries of our world are unfathomably deeper, and infinitely more beautiful. Nelson’s art deals with nature outside the human gaze. Her intricate images of flora and fauna aren’t merely objectified depictions of animals and plants, but hint at powerful narratives that often go unseen by us.

Nelson’s fantastical portrayals of nature are well known, but in her latest exhibition, ‘The Secret Garden’, it almost seems as if she is reaching out into nature. She prepares her own pigments with flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables. With techniques of printing and painting in natural dyes on silk stoles, we see the artist’s innate engagement with nature, going beyond traditional methods. Wander through The Secret Garden, and you will find yourself surrounded by textiles, wood, paper, a whole gamut of materials. You might believe that it is as much enchanted forest as secret garden.

“I am working in the domain of flora and fauna as before,” she explains. “But now the visual language within me is not content with layers of paint on a flat surface. It is asking for a physical manifestation through three-dimensional materials.” What is to be noted here is that it is not she deciding what the materials and techniques for her work should be, but the work itself demanding it of her. It is almost as if it has a life of its own, and that she is not the creator but the medium. This is, of course, not true. It is after years of work and experimentation that she arrived at the techniques she shows such mastery of.

She uses natural elements such as marigold, hibiscus, flame-of-the-forest, fern, eucalyptus leaves, strawberries and rose to make colours, and for textural imprints. The fabric is processed through natural dyeing and printing techniques such as indigo, shibori or tie-n-dye, among others. Using paint brushes she renders the motifs on the stretched fabric with natural colours and printing techniques to get a wide palette of hues. Finally the colours of the images are fixed and the dyed fabric is washed before being prepared for wear.

Curator Jasmine Shah Varma notes, “There is continuity in Nelson’s art, and The Secret Garden is recognisably hers, and could only have been created by one person. Various techniques are available to her and she commands those to translate her own iconography for us to see. Seeing
the new collection after a gap of six years, fans of Nelson will find that they are compelled not just to view her work, but to interact with it. The Secret Garden is a significant step forward from one of the most distinctive and idiosyncratic artists in India today.”
Radhi Parekh, the Director of ARTISANS’ says “Shruti Nelson’s work straddles that fine line as an artist-artisan, exploring materials and media hands on, with a singular vision.”