Observation, context, connections: success tips for creativity from the India Habitat Centre exhibition


From cloth to bronze, this photo essay showcases the diverse works of four artists, along with insights on creativity and career.

PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 295 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

India Habitat Centre in New Delhi recently hosted a four-artist exhibition titled Lifelines. The featured artists in this photo essay from the Visual Arts Gallery are Anita Anand (painter diaries), Gautam Bhatia (bronze installations), Alka Mathur (layered quilts), and Punam Zutshi (fibre-board). Together, the art works contrast the beauty of the natural world with the sometimes fragmented and faceless urban habitat.

Artist Alka Mathur told YourStory:

“Art is my personal lifeline. I have to paint, I feel incomplete without art.”

She also makes mixed-media art quilts out of shells, stones, seeds, dried leaves, cloth scraps, buttons, and even teabags. Each of them has individual and overlapping stories to tell, she explains. “Success for an artist comes from appreciation by audiences and other artists, and from developing lasting relationships with the broader community,” Alka adds.

She has tips for aspiring artists as well. “Have an open and observant mind, and peel away the layers of what you see around you just like an onion. Keep your sense of wonder and desire for discovery alive,” Alka advises. “It is easier to be an artist today in terms of access and audiences. But it is much more competitive. We also need more spaces to showcase art in society,” she urges.

Home is more about soul than soil, says self-taught artist Anita Anand, citing the writer Pico Iyer. Her exhibited paintings contextualise art by placing them alongside actual artefacts from the places she has visited, ranging from Tuscany to Kabul. From the ordinary to the exotic, she sees the hand of art in everything and every place, in her section aptly titled ‘Here and There.’

Working with bronze as a medium can be full of expectation as well as frustration, says architect Gautam Bhatia. These moods are also reflected in his sculptures on public life in India, ranging from mass labour to endless queues.

Punam Zutshi uses pen and chisel to “draw upon, draw out and just draw the inner, the instinctive, the inchoate.” She has been a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, and has taught sociology at the National Institute of Design.

Punam has been working with black ink since the late 1970s. Her work was exhibited for the first time in 2003, when she showed Arpana Caur her drawings. She began experimenting with medium density fibreboard (MDF) in 2013. Her story reflects the importance for creative professionals to record and archive their work so that they can become relevant or recognised in later times.

Now, what have you done today to sharpen your creative mind and muscle, and connect to the broader communities around you?

Alka Mathur
Punam Zutshi

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

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