It is a mixed feeling as you walk past one of your own installations every morning. Sometimes it is a feeling of elation seeing a piece of art that will remain forever. But most times, it is panic at the thought of small chip here, a little paint peeling there and loads of excruciating scrutiny. This installation, a magnificent, vibrant tree perched high above on a dominating grey wall is part of my own office. Made with ceramic and pasted (yes, piece by piece) on painted plywood, this 12 feet by 12 feet structure is a jolt in the predominant stark grey architecture of the building.
A collaborative project with Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre at CEPT University, David Gray, a ceramic designer from Scotland, ClayClub, the local ceramic studio and our team at CraftCanvas, this was one hell of a joyride. Spanning over 2 months and sweating it out at the studio while a 1000 degree Celsius kiln is on (it is one of the hottest summers in Ahmedabad), this has been one of the most physically taxing projects ever. Interspersed with a lovely exchange of ideas and conversations from the East and the West, Indian food and Scottish coffee (no, not palatable at all!), the mural took shape.
The language barrier faded very quickly with the Gond artisans from Madhya Pradesh figuring out a way to swap ideas with the Scottish designer. David spent a good amount of time in understanding the art techniques before suggesting a design. The mural was to be installed at the Centre of Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad. Being the focal piece of art at the institution, this mural at the entrance symbolizes their vision.
The logo forms the base for the mural. Painted in bold Gond colours and textures, this represents CIIE as the platform/roots for every start up in their premises. The tree symbolizes the ecosystem that houses all the companies. Every sector dealt with by the incubatees here is represented by an icon.
The run-up to the climax was no less than a Bollywood flick. With 15 people working on either sides of a shaky scaffolding, the final installation was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I panicked as the massive structure swayed chipping a tiny edge, but more damage was averted by the hero of the show- our carpenter Naresh. As the final screw was nailed in, there were tears in my eyes. We had done it. I’ve heard that going through labour changes your life and makes you a different person. As I see the plaque holding my company’s name beside the mural, I know that with every project a little bit of me changes. And I welcome that wholeheartedly.