Inner and outer path, a 360degrees perambulation of the Hill

By seeing Chidambaram, by being born in Tiruvarur, by dying in Kasi, or by merely thinking of Arunachala, one will surely attain Liberation.” – Arunachala Mahatmyam

Arunachala refers to the holy hill at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. The hill is also known by the names Arunagiri, Annamalai Hill, Arunachalam, Arunai, Sonagiri and Sonachalam. Tiruvannamalai is revered as ‘Agni Sthala’ (Fire), one of the five elements described in shaivite philosophy. The Annamalaiyar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located at the base of the hill. Every year in the Tamil month of Karthigai (October–November), the Karthigai Deepam (Light) is lit atop the hill. The circumambulation of Arunachala Hill is known as Giri Pradakshina in Sanskrit and Giri Valam in Tamil. Every full moon, several thousand pilgrims perambulate around the Hill.  The pilgrims usually walk bare feet, chanting hymns and mantras dedicated to the holy Hill.

Inner path / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Inner path / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Inner path / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Inner path / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Inner path / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Inner path / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives

The 14km perambulation has two different paths. One is the commonly known ‘outer path’ and not so common ‘inner path’. The inner path is belongs to the Protected Area of the State Forest Department. The Life in outer path is versatile and alive with many pilgrims walking and chanting. The well made road and pavements are often crowded with different shops that serve the circumnavigating pilgrims. This path is vibrant with life and activities. The life in inner path is totally different. In reality, the inner path is an abode to the Sadhus of Tiruvannamalai. The perennial ponds, the lone trails, the animals, unique plants and serene silence adorn the protected inner path.

Project 365 photographer Maveeran Somasundaram
Project 365 photographer Maveeran Somasundaram

Maveeran Somasundram, Project 365 photographer will be documenting the life in inner and outer path. Maveeran is born in a village called Thiruthuraipoondi, Thiruvarur Ditrict, Tamil Nadu. He started exploring photography when he was very young. He has completed his MBA. He is currently based in Chennai.

Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Outer path / Image (C) Maveeran Somasundaram / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives

2

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer:

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

120 years of ‘Christian presence and lifestyle’ in Tiruvannamalai

Christianity in the state of Tamil Nadu, India is believed to be 2000 years old. It possibly was introduced to Tamil Nadu by St. Thomas, the Apostle, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ who landed in Malabar Coast (modern day Kerala) in AD 52. But today, these Saint Thomas Christians or Syrian Christians are found mainly in Kerala. Later the colonial age brought a large number of Portuguese, Dutch, British and Italian Christians to Tamil Nadu. According to 2011 census, the percentage of Christians in Tiruvannamalai District accounted to 2.95% of the total population.

Leo James, Project 365 photographer will be documenting the presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai. Camera always fascinated Leo and he always had the eye of an artist, and immense talent too. Leo enjoyed drawing and painting from a very young age and his father always hoped that he would ultimately opt for a career as an architect. But long before he was done with high school, he knew what he wanted to be for the rest of his life – a photographer. He was first inspired by what he saw in magazines and began by reading up on the art, learning the basics and techniques with the help of books on photography. Leo started following local photographers and photojournalists in his hometown Kollam, making friends, and learning from them whatever he could. After topping his Bachelors in Mass Communication and Video Production from the Kerala University, which also taught photography extensively, he was ready to take on the world. From conceptual works to autobiographical details, Leo experimented with the various realms of picture taking. He shot for events at first to fund his personal projects, maintaining a balance between his commercial work and his own passion, to take pictures of what interested him most as a creative person. Leo did an internship with some of the best advertising photographers in Cochin at that time, and mastered the art of studio photography.

Project 365 photographer Leo James
Project 365 photographer Leo James

While he was contemplating moving to Dubai, he met Abul Kalam Azad, a revered photographer who made a huge impact on him as a person and as an artist. Leo spent some valuable time with Abul, his most admired mentor, as he assisted him with his work and learnt more along the way. Leo currently works in Dubai, on various commercial projects and his portfolio includes industrial photography, products, architecture,events and even portraits. While he is an expert with his planned studio shots that he takes with his digital camera, he also experiments with the analogue medium, shooting with several different cameras and films. Most of Leo’s personal work is hugely autobiographical. It artistically reflects his journey from Kollam to Cochin and to Dubai and all his connections with different people and places, and the experiences he has had in between. Leo’s photos also portray a poignant sensitivity to his subjects, be it mundane objects in someone’s home, a cityscape, a fish market or his ode to an artist. His work also expresses his many moods, sometimes melancholic and sometimes nostalgic, among others.

Arcot Lutheran Church formerly known as the Danish Missionary Church – a church with 150 years of mission in history, was founded in the year 1863 at Melpattambakkam Village, Tamil Nadu, India, by the missionaries of the Danish Missionary Society and now spread over 5 districts of Tamilnadu, and one Pastorate in the State of Puducherry and one at Bengaluru, in the State of Karnataka India with the central administration office located at Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, India.

In 1706 the first missionaries from Halle University, Bartholomew Ziegenbalg & Heinrich Plutcho were sent to India by the Danish King Frederick IV.  The German Missionary Ochs left the Leipzig Mission in 1863 on the question of tolerating caste in the Church and started an Orphanage in Melpattambakkam in South Arcot District, Tamil Nadu.  In 1864 he was accepted by the Danish Missionary Society as their Missionary. The Missionaries started school work. The preaching of the Gospel made them to establish congregations.  It was the Danish Mission Church till 1950 and the Danish Missionaries were the leaders at every stage.  In 1951 a new constitution was introduced and that paved the way for indigenous leadership and the church was named  “The Arcot Lutheran Church”. The Carmel Lutheran Church was established in the year 1890 and the Carmel Lutheran Church was established in the year 1914 in Tiruvannamalai.

Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Abandoned church in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Leo James will be documenting the life, lifestyle, architecture, rituals and customs of Christians in Tiruvannamalai over a year period.

(to be continued)

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer: Image (C) Leo James / Project 365 PUBLIC archives.

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Profile of Leo by Ami Gupta / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

Shibu Arakkal in Tiruvannamalai

Shibu Arakkal, Bangalore based photo artist is participating in Project 365 – the collective public photo art project initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle in Tiruvannamalai. Shibu Arakkal, son of eminent painter Yusuf Arakkal, was born in Bangalore and after completing his BA from St. Josephs’ Arts & Science College, Bangalore he got trained in digital media from Edit Institute, Bangalore. He was trained in photography under Sudhir Ramchandran and Rafique Sayed. Since 1999, Shibu’s works are widely exhibited in India and abroad. He has won several awards. The most recent is the Lorenzo il Magnifico gold prize in digital art at the prestigious Florence Biennale 2013.

Shibu Arakakl at Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Shibu Arakkal at Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Shibu Arakakl at Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Shibu Arakkal at Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives

Shibu made his first visit to Tiruvannamalai on September 15, 2014. He spent almost three days, exploring the town, talking with the other Project 365 photographers and developing his concept as part of Project 365. Something in him was profoundly touched by this visit to our ancient town. He says, “Many a souls have been lost in big cities and found in little towns. Tiruvannamalai is a town of gigantic profundity, spiritually and in the very essence of life itself, as anyone could see.

Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives

When a relatively small patch of land is seeped in history, of kings and commoners, of gods and devotees, of saints and philosophers and of the land itself, the curious thing is how simple and yet relevant it can still remain. I speak of a relevance of this little town, in a very real sense of being and of being what you are and intensely proudly so. A reality untainted by connotations of a “virtual life” and of urban frustrations. It isn’t hard to see why the physical landscape of the town itself has such spiritual buoyancy, so much that immortal beings life Ramana Maharshi chose this patch of land to meditate in and to bring the outside world in to share that philosophy with. It is also curious that in-spite of being ruled by various dynastic monarchies, Tiruvannamalai has such distinct character, one of its own and of a very humble but rich legacy.

Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives

Believers in destiny like I, seldom wonder why we are drawn to a place, knowing fully well that the spirit of a place itself, such as this one, often becomes the food for our own souls.”

Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Agni Shylam by Shibu Arakkal / Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC Archives

Shibu finds the narrow lanes of this age-old town and the manner in which the settlements are constructed interesting. In Project 365, Shibu intends to document the busy / lone lanes and streets of this age old settlement.

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer: Image (C) Shibu Arakkal / Project 365 PUBLIC archives.

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

Life of children

“Why I love to photograph children is because they are so different from adults. Like another species altogether… no complications, no pretenses. What you see is what you get. Till the ways of the world transform them slowly and steadily into people you can’t really decipher”. – Project 365 photographer Ami Gupta

Ami Gupta, a photographer based in Chennai will be capturing the life of children in Tiruvannamalai. Ami will follow Children from diversified economic, religious and cultural backgrounds and photo-document their life and lifestyle.  She will be using the digital medium and will also experiment with the analogue cameras and techniques during the course of the year. This below interview presents Ami Gupta’s ongoing project in Tiruvannamalai as part of Project 365, the public photo art project initiated by EtP to document the fast changing South Indian culture and contemporary lifestyle.

How and when did your journey as a photographer begin?

Neither through my growing up years, nor through my advertising career as a copywriter, did I ever imagine that I would become a photographer. Someone stole the one and only camera I owned four years ago, and that, was actually the turning point in my life. I decided to buy a new camera, a DSLR and in no time it became my new raison d’être. Everything I saw through the lens seemed magical. Be it a shard of grass, a pattern of light rays, or ice cubes floating lazily in a glass of scotch, everything around became a subject of interest. That’s what photography did to me, made me see the world all over again …never the same.

Project 365 photographer Ami Gupta

Project 365 photographer Ami Gupta

Early experimenting was a self-learning process. I went on to learn the basics of photography with Mr. Raja Ponsing in Chennai and then began to consider photography as a career option. At first, it was all about ‘making’ pretty pictures, of interesting objects, glorious skies or good-looking places and people. No matter what the subject, my images have always been about what I connect with, in a relationship that is like a quiet underlying bond, using expressions that need no words.

Along with my various random explorations, I started to photograph professionally, mostly interiors and products and children’s portfolios.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to photojournalism and documentary photography. This was a very different genre of work, where beauty in pictures meant something else. What mattered was whether a photo had ‘soul’ or not… From street photography to a more focused approach to storytelling via pictures, I realized that I enjoyed this mode of photography even more. My first works in this realm, ‘Silent screams’ and ‘BuriNazar’ were a part of a group exhibition on Besant Nagar Beach during Art Chennai 2014.

What made you join Project 365? Tiruvannamalai, the temple town is not a particularly spectacular destination for a photographer. What has been your experience so far?

I haven’t traveled much in India as a photographer. As I had mentioned, it’s actually just been 3 years since I took up photography seriously. As a kid yes, I had traveled much. My parents along with their friends would take us to visit one new state in India or hill station every year. As I grew older, there was always work that kept me so busy, and then children… and travel now was all about going to different countries. Thailand, Italy, Turkey, Spain… where should we go next? So many places, so little time. And the ‘so many places’ in India somehow, were never on top of the list.

So when I first heard about Tiruvannamalai, to me it was just a vague town somewhere in Tamil Nadu. With a famous temple.Big Deal. Lots of people come to pray. Ok, so? There’s the Arunachala Hill. I’ve seen bigger, better.

But then Project 365 happened.I decided to take it up just to do something different and experience something new. An unusual project in a place I had never been to. So here I am…

This is the first time I am on a trip to focus on nothing else but ‘making pictures’. And after visiting this temple town just twice, I could tell that something in me has changed. Like I had been drawn to this place for reasons beyond my understanding, as though some mystic force had decided my fate. Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic about it. But yes, I can feel some sort of a ‘peaceful energy’ if I may call it that, with every walk I take, every morning I wake up here, or each time I meet someone new. I don’t even know if I can explain it. I’m looking at life from another perspective now, however far removed from my actual lifestyle it may be.

What is your project plan? How do plan to portray the diversified culture of Tiruvannamalai?

I am right now in the process of spending time with children from different walks of life and different cultural backgrounds. I intend to document their every-day life, religious connections, the festivals they celebrate, where they study, what they play and much more.

As part of Project 365, I will be photo-documenting the life of Virupaksham in Veda patasala, Sri Ramana Ashram.

Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Virupaksham’ / Life of children / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘virupaksham’ / Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Virupaksham’ / Life of children / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

I will also be documenting few adhoc visuals and anecdotes of children that I come across during my photo shoot… there are many interesting stories and events that I find fascinating.

Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Vetriselvam’ / Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Vetriselvam was perched on his father’s bike as I walked by. This was during my walk to the town, a day after Project 365 Samarambam, that was held at Kalai Illam on 15th August 2014. Vetriselvam’s brothers and sisters were curious about my camera and me. They started to pose and I insisted that I want them to just play and continue doing what they do everyday. An ice-cream vendor passed by just then and Vetriselvam’s sister Gayathri looked up at her father with eyes full of longing. He shook his head, while I insisted that I treat them. For a child, happiness is as simple as that. A mango ice stick that has the power to make his or their day. Vetriselvam was in his element. Grinning away non-stop, while Gayathri recited poems and sang songs she’d learnt at school. I was welcome to stay and hang out with them, they offered me the peanuts that grew on their farm and just like that we connected. I will go back and give them these photos. Small moments of pleasure frozen forever. The image shows Vetriselvam after a satisfying ice cream.

Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Archana and Yuvraj’ / Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

The above image is of Archana and YuvrajI vividly remember my visit to their home. The farms on either side of the road were glowing, with that healthy sunny green and yellow freshness you see after a bout of rain, and I was loving my walk. It’s strange how you come to meet people in life, and how they leave an impression on you. Like it was meant to be. That’s how I met 11-year old Archana. She was studying, or doing some homework sitting outside the door, as she looked up at me. Of course I wanted to take her picture, so we got chatting, about her school and her little brother and her parents who are farmers, (they grow and sell marigold flowers) She was learning English at school and her handwriting was impeccable. Indoors, a small room cluttered with daily objects surrounded her as she smiled for me. Her brother Yuvraj tried hard to pretend to be writing so that I would take photos of him too. As I looked around at their threadbare belongings, and at the hardship in her parents’ eyes, I ‘felt’ a sense of hope for them. They are giving their very best to their children- an education that is priceless, and the only reason for hope that their lives will change.

Thank you Ami Gupta

(continues)

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer: Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives.

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

Project 365 initiators and partners

Sufi mystics and Islam in the temple town

Hazrath Syedini Bibi, a legendary woman Sufi in the temple town

Early nineteenth century, from the Middle East, Syedini Bibi, a Sufi woman mystic came to Nagore Dargah (a dargah built over the tomb of the Sufi saint Hazrath Nagore Shahul Hamid / 1490–1579 CE). After visiting the Nagore Dargah, she traveled to Tiruvannamalai where she lived the rest of her life. During the eighties, the Nawab of the time built a Dargah in the Car Street, Tiruvannamalai in honor of Syedini Bibi. There is very little information about this Sufi fakir, however several mystical stories connected to her tomb are spread via word of mouth.

Sufi woman mystic Syedini Bibi's Dargarh at the Car Street, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Woman mystic Sufi Syedini Bibi’s Dargah at the Car Street, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) c2013 / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives

There are several other Dargah’s and Sufi saints related to this ancient town. Sufism, a concept in Islam is defined by scholars as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam; others insist that it is a perennial philosophy of existence that pre-dates religion, the expression of which thrived within the Islamic religion. Some hold that the essence of Sufism has also been expressed via other religions and meta-religious phenomena, while others believe Sufism to be something totally unique within Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a Sufi. They belong to different “orders” (turuq, meaning congregations formed around a master). The “orders” meet for spiritual sessions (majalis), in meeting places known as zawiyahs, khanqahs, or tekke.

The history of Islamic rule in Tiruvannamalai

The history of Tiruvannamalai revolves around the Annamalaiyar Temple. The recorded history of the town dates back to the ninth century, as seen from a Chola inscriptions in the temple. Tiruvannamalai has been ruled by the Pallava kings, the Chola Kings, the Hoysola kings, and the Vijayanagar Empire. It is during the 17th century, Tiruvannamalai came under the dominion of the Nawab of the Carnatic. As the Mughal empire came to an end, the Nawab lost control of the town, with confusion and chaos ensuing after 1753. Subsequently, there were periods of both Hindu and Muslim stewardship of the temple, with Muraru Raya, Krishna Raya, Mrithis Ali Khan, and Burkat Ullakhan besieging the temple in succession. As European incursions progressed, Tiruvannamalai was attacked by French Soupries, Sambrinet, and the English Captain Stephen Smith. While some were repelled, others were victorious. The French occupied the town in 1757 and it came under the control of the British in 1760. In 1790, Tiruvannamalai town was captured by Tippu Sultan, who ruled from 1750 till 1799. During the first half of the 19th century, the town came under British rule. Inspite of the active presence of Islamic rulers and dynasties, the percentage of Islamic people is confined to 1.02% of the total population (according to Censes 2011). There are number of Sufi Dargahs in this ancient town.

EtP’s ongoing Project 365, a PUBLIC PHOTO ART project, is collectively photo documenting Tiruvannamalai using traditional and modern photographic techniques. As part of Project 365, M. K. Iqbal, a photographer hailing from Kerala proposes to document the Sufi tradition, its institutions, people and its relevance in Tiruvannamalai.

M. K. Iqbal / project 365 photographer
M. K. Iqbal / project 365 photographer

M. K. Iqbal is a documentary photographer with considerable experience in videography as well. Iqbal runs Studio Moon in Vaduthala in Alappuzha District in Kerala. Iqbal dropped out of a pre-university course in commerce to join the Cameraman Institute in Ernakulam for a one-year diploma in photography and videography. He developed into a professional photographer under the guidance of photographer Suleiman in Kochi. He became a freelance soon afterwards, but left it for a brief while to pursue social activism. He joined Campaign Advertising in Bangalore and learned the art of industrial photography. Later he joined the Madhayamam Daily in Ernakulam in 1993 and worked there till 1997. In 1997, he left for New Delhi where he had a successful stint as a freelancer, working for a string of magazines, both print and online, which range from Mean Time magazine to Tehelka. Iqbal’s passion for his own land and its people led him to implement several projects, the major ones being Project Mainstream in Mumbai in 1998 and “My Land and the People” sponsored by the Varthamanam Daily.

Sufi - 'mysticism and practice' in the temple town Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi mystics and Islam in the temple town / Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi - 'mysticism and practice' in the temple town Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi mystics and Islam in the temple town / Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi - 'mysticism and practice' in the temple town Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi mystics and Islam in the temple town / Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi - 'mysticism and practice' in the temple town Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives
Sufi mystics and Islam in the temple town / Image (C) Iqbal MK / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC Archives

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer: Image (C) Iqbal MK / Project 365 PUBLIC archives.

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

Thank you and Join us!!!

Project 365 initiators and partners

 

Palmyra, and the story of a wandering artist

“Palmyra”

A solo show of Chrigel (Christian) Uhlmann is right now open for public at Kalai Illam, Tiruvannamalai. The show features his palm leaf sculptures and paintings. There are several exhibitions and interesting art works created all around the world. However, this particular show tells the story of the artwork that re-connects two friends who had lost touch with one another…

Christian Uhlmann / Photographer Unknown / EtP Archives
Christian Uhlmann painting (Swiss Alps) / Livio Piatti / Silver Gelatin Prints 1975/ EtP Archives

EtP’s archives has several images of Christian Uhlmann. These images are taken and donated by Abul Kalam Azad to the Trust. EtP’s interest is to archive the life and work of photographers and artists. That’s why we started excavating stories and anecdotes from Christian’s life ….. Even though, the present generation Indian artists will not be able to trace the hippie trail left behind by this maverick group of musicians and artists, their memorable voyage into our landscape is a story to be told and retold for generations to come.

Chrigel was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. Christian started painting at a young age. He was inspired by his father, a talented artist who taught him painting. A traveler by heart, Christian has explored different parts of the world and his road trips have taken him through many paths that cannot be traveled anymore. The fast changing geography in his life journey spanning polars, “from Alps to Arunachala” as he himself testifies, and a simplicity reminiscent of the ‘true hippie’ though at first glance is hard to comprehend, has a ubiquitous mystical correlation all through his works.

Christian Uhlmann with his colleagues at Zurich Art School, Switzerland / Photographer Unknown / 1974
Christian Uhlmann with his colleagues at Zurich Art School, Switzerland / Photographer Unknown / 1974

Hippie subculture

The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. Hippie fashions and values had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. Since the 1960s, many aspects of hippie culture have been assimilated by the mainstream American society. The religious and cultural diversity espoused by the hippies gained widespread acceptance including eastern philosophy and spiritual concepts. The hippie legacy can be observed in contemporary culture in myriad forms, including health food, music festivals, contemporary sexual mores, and even the cyberspace revolution. The hippie movement was in its rise in Europe in the 1970s when it was facing the ‘after shock’ in America. In the year 1971, Christian started his journey from Switzerland in a fourteen seat matador van along with 7 other crew members. In this group of European hippies, most of them were musicians and two of them were talented painters. Their final destination was India…..

The Journey

Christian and his troupe reached India after traveling almost three months on road, from Swizz crossing over all of East Europe, passing Turkey, Greece, Tehran, Baghdad, Kabul, Karachi and Dharmashala by land. His travel was full of amazing experiences and adventures. Crossing over Bamyan Buddha or sitting in a café in Kabul or moving through the Waga border or meeting Dalai Lama in the road is almost next to impossibility now. During his first India was facing a war with Bangladesh. Just before the war he crossed the border and was staying put Dharmashala for almost two months. After the war, the group went to Nepal. The team separated in Nepal and Christian came alone to Banaras. Without any travel guide or direction books, Christian hoped to different places and he back to Swizz via Delhi. Christian fondly recollects, “Our life was music and art. All through the way we paint and make music, sing and dance. Freedom and passion was our spirit. Falling in love, saying good byes were all part of the travel… without mobile phone or internet, traveling in less trailed hidden terrains was indeed an enjoyable experience with all its inherent risks.” This trip lasted about year. Christian and his friends also did a trans-saharan trip (Senegal, Mally upto Algeria and return), after a short break in their country.

Christian Uhlmann / Photographer Unknown / Silver Gelatin Prints / EtP Archives
Christian Uhlmann with Ali (dog) / Livio Piatti / Silver Gelatin Prints / EtP Archives

His next trip to India was in the 1975s. This time it was in his own car, with his girlfriend. He with his usual mischievous said, “I remember my time in Afghanistan.. During those times, Afghanistan was full of cafés, people, vibrant culture and food… it was free and safe. The wilderness of Afghanistan terrain was so tough and heavy and by the time we reached Bamyan, my car got broken and my girl friend opted to stay back in Afghanistan. I still remember looking at the huge Buddha sculpture in Bamyan… alone, for a long time… . Although their original plan was to New Zealand with the turbulent changes, Christian continued his journey to India. His search for questions about self, life and love made him wander in the wilderness of the pilgrim towns of India, Varanasi, Puri etc., and he reached South India. Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, Salem, Kanyakumari, Varkala etc., His trip was not following any designed course; he simply hopped from one place to another looking at the map. There were not many tourists that time and he simple had to choose some where to go based on a hunch. He continued this journey for almost four years and finally in the 1980s he returned back to Varkala, India looking for a place to settle for alteast few months. During this entire 5 years of travel, he didn’t stay in one place for longer than 2 weeks. His need for settling some where was evident. Christian says, “When I was wandering in the Varkala beach looking for a stay, somebody in the tea shop took me to a place. It was an ashram… I wasn’t looking for an ashram but then Hamsha Johannus de Reade called me and it was comfortable.. So I stayed there… He explained to me that there is a place in Italy. I also went to Italy and stayed at the ashram. I came back to Varkala in the year 1983 with an entry VISA to learn Advaita and Vedanta under the guidance of Hamsha Johannus de Reade, who was a disciple of Dr. Mess. Dr. Mess was known Sadhu Ekarasa and he was very much related to Ramana Maharishi and has taken several photos of Ramana Maharishi. Dr. Mess was a scholar from Holland. Although I never had any plans to become part of any ashram structure, I and Hamsha had very interesting conversations… I was not a conformist to his ideas and I didn’t take part in any of the ashram activities but opted to paint during my stay in Varkala…”

The art work

Photographer Abul Kalam Azad says, “In the year 2010, I was introduced to Christian Uhlmann (Krishna Das) by my artist friend Judith Beartshi, who is also from Switzerland. We met Christian at his home, a farm in the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai town. He was in his lungi, busily tending and milking the cows…. To me, he appeared as a half naked fakir…. Judith introduced me to Christian and informed about ‘where three dreams cross’, the exhibition in Winterthur museum where my works were being featured. Thus a casual introduction lead to a trusted conversation and Christian came forward to share his art and his treasured collection.., That’s when I saw these two identical portraits of Christian. The familiar strength of the lines and the composition struck my eyes. As an artist, I am always curious to know a fellow artist. I asked him with my usual loud and husky voice , “who is the artist?….” Christian replied with his innocent tone of a farmer, “I do not know…. I was enjoying my peak hippie time and I stayed in Varkala for few months. It must be 1983 or 1984. I used to stay in an ashram in Varkala. I often see a young local boy quietly drawing the surrounding and its people. I befriended him and as a gesture of friendship, he did two portraits of mine. I left Varkala and my wandering finally took me here (Tiruvannamalai). But I preserved these works and I have always been eager to meet Shibu again…..” I probed further. Finally, Christian said dramatically, “his name is Natesan… his father was having a commercial painting studio called Baby Natesan art or Baby art “.

I knew Shibu Natesan, he is now a noted contemporary Indian painter and lives in London.”

Drawing of Christian Uhlmann / Photographed by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
Drawing of Christian Uhlmann 1983 / Photographed by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

Shibu informed Abul, “Christian Uhlmann, was a friend for a short period of time in the mid 80s. This hard core hippie used to live in Kannuvashramam, which is situated on top of the Kakkalathu Hill, varkala. Once I traveled to Kovalam beach with him and spent a night there among his friends… I got a lot of attention at that night, being a winner of the chess game. Christian used to look like Durer (self portrait). I hope to meet him again next time when I visit Thiruvannamalai.”

Shibu never knew that his two drawings are being preserved for so many years in his favorite town Tiruvannamalai by a hippie wanderer…Christian never thought that he would meet this young artist who is now internationally acclaimed… Christian started coming to Tiruvannamalai in the year early 1980s. Since then he has been on and off to Tiruvannamalai every year and in the year 1993 he moved to Tiruvannamalai permanently. Even though Shibu is a frequent visitor to Tiruvannamalai, they both never knew that the other is in the same town. Yet, like a movie, these two artists are re-connected through an artwork… When Shibu visited Tiruvannamalai, Christian was not in town…. a phone call was not a possibility, as Christian is still that hippie, he hardly answers the phone.

The reunion

As part of the year-long ‘Photography and beyond’ exhibition series, EtP had organised a solo show of Christian Uhlmann.

"Palmyra" / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
“Palmyra” / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

Shibu Natesan inaugurated the show and the two friend met after a long time…

Christian Uhlmann and Shibu Natesan / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Christian Uhlmann and Shibu Natesan / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
'Palmyra" / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
‘Palmyra” / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Noted art historian and curator Johny Mullivilakom Lakshmanan at the Palmyra Show inauguration / image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Noted art historian and curator Johny Mullivilakom Lakshmanan at the Palmyra Show inauguration / image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

Christian still keeps the original legacy of hippie life style in Tiruvannamalai. In 1994, Christian left Kannuvashramam and married Rani, a local Tamil woman. Together they manage the 2 acre farm in Tiruvannamalai. They together have traveled to the Himalayas, Europe and many other places. His mother was working in a psychiatry hospital and his sister works as an editor. His brother-in-law was the city mayor. His brother is a builder. As far as our Christian is concerned, he had been a cow-boy in Alps, post man in Arts school, assistant in a bale troupe… and in life he was an all time wanderer and artist…. Christians works have been exhibited in one of prominent galleries run by UBS along with Wassily Kandinsky. Carl Neukom, a German who was part of UBS has collected Christians paintings and also has been a sole patron for Christian for a long time.

The life and lifestyle of Christian is hard to comprehend and follow now. He often says, “I don’t know any spirituality.. I think the world is my ashram… I don’t know whether I am an artist… I paint for my own joy!!! I plant seeds and know that it will grow…”

The show is open for public until 25th September 2014. ALL ARE WELCOME.

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to EtP Archives. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. If you need more information contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com

Photography and Beyond

YEAR-LONG EXHIBITION SERIES

Photography, has now become an all pervading medium and has replaced ‘memory’ to a large extent. Artists predominantly use and refer photographs for their art works. In performance art and other site specific art events, most often still and movie images alone remain as a memory and evidence of the event. These photographs of art works become art by in itself, viewed and interpreted in accordance to the onlooker.

EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photography) has organised this year-long exhibition series at Kalai Illam, the village space for art established at Tiruvannamalai. EtP intends to unearth the profound connection between photography and other art forms. EtP has initiated this non-commercial exhibition series to showcase contemporary art among the resident rural Indian population and the floating urban and international tourists who frequent this town.

The first of the series was a solo show of Ganeshbabu Chembayil titled ‘on THE ROAD’ and was open for public from 15th June till 3rd August 2014.

“on THE ROAD”

on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

In this unique work, Ganeshbabu expressed his own journey and memories mixing photographs, texts, drawings etc., directly applied on the 1500 sq.ft wall space at ‘kalai Illam’. This non-commercial ‘auto-portrait of an artist’ challenges the current art market norms and its practices. The show was inaugurated by noted Tamil short story writer Sri BavaChellathurai; Sri J. Jayaraman, Librarian, Sri Ramana Ashram; Sri Kulanthaivel, Vice Chairman, EtP; Smt. Shylaja Chellathurai, Publisher, Vamsi Books; and Sri Wendel Field, American artist who lives in Tiruvannamalai for the past 14 years. The show was open for public till 3rd August 2014.

A BRIEF ABOUT THE ARTIST

on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image (C) Panneer Selvam / EtP Archives

Ganeshbabu Chembayil is a self-taught artist from South India. He lives between India and France. He draws from the recollection of images from his own experiences. He finds it more challenging and exhilarating a task as it involves extracting beauty from reality. Art for him is far from academic enterprise. He says, “Due to its ability to express every sensation of beatitude and sweetness or ugliness and bitterness, art shares a borderline with poetry, music and human history. I think artists who tread on long strides to distant horizon, play the music of Life. An artist can imitate a horizontal line and an ascending or descending vertical line, without losing its breath, or plunge steeply down to hell with velocity……., and that can make a series of superimposed angles”.

IMAGES FROM ‘on THE ROAD’

on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Instagram Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

R E A L I T Y in 40 D A Z E

Commentary on ‘on THE ROAD’ show BY J JAYARAMAN

J Jayaraman, Librarian, Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai, and Project 365 photographer, had been observing the work of Ganeshbabu Chembayil since the start of the artist’s yajna: “on THE ROAD”, and his inspired comments are below:

This would be a ‘real-time commentary’ on the ma-chic-all “gam” passage through this amazing artist’s providential 40-day [jai-simha Lent!] to EtP Archives.

“Walking into EtP’s Kalai Illam’s central hall but a few months ago, I  bumped into this Indian artist relocated from France. And froze in Tiruvannamalai.  At first glance, that day at the central hall… which till the day earlier had sported an august bareness of pellucid white walls. In short, I wondered if I saw Ganeshbabu-ji intent on a boxed-in mass ack-err?

But then it didn’t take long for the musician in the artist in me,

To resonate with the wise “Vice ‘ware’ ” e’er I’d see

Ganeshji’s artistry in an overture played out in deft strokes of a ‘conduit’ terra free

You’ll agree as we

Walk through Chembayil you as I could see…..

A ‘vaak’ [speech] through an artist doing the Blues in many a bold  bar.
It is a popular misconception that the Cartesian dicta  “cogito ergo sum” are

Meant to mean: “I think I know

“My self as thought; and so

I exist only by virtue of

The occurrence of a thinking ‘op’! ” ?

Nop(e), and I hasten to explain correctly [according to me], Descartes  meant “I cogitate, I brood upon, I con-template self in images. I question. I stand apart as the QUEST’shunner. Therefore I AM [be-ing is] the background”.

A theme more logically says “cogitating” is king to ‘thinking’ a mere vassal.

Ganeshbabu’s tapestry of boxed in images weaves a magic of time past and ahead, revisited in a deja vu that spoke to me:

[1]

“I am the Sabha, the hall that holds

The Image. The Being, a sabhaaShe unfolds

Itself the witnessing.

The Peace as blessing

ItsSelf blissing”.

A perambulation of the ” ‘Kurukshetra” [doership-field] a few days later revealed

the folloWing flashes of fLight…..

What do we see?

In-sigh’t spree!

Dr. Richard Harris’ Adult and Parent and Child ack’hey?’types (defined through his classic “I’m OK You’re OK” of the 1960s) peep out through every ‘adult’ zoOm; a few are quoted below .

[3]

“Pleasure [activity of thought: vritti] is dictated solely by the presence of desire.”
“sah akaamayata: “ekah aham; bahusyaama!” = THAT [transcendence] DESIRED: “I am one; [= and so, to ‘become’ MANY, let me find out what could be there at all capable, of being desired and attainable <itals follow>a priori, given MY unique circum-stance! ] [thus in endemic lila…] ” I ‘become’ MAN’eye’ !” °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

[4]

“Beware of the Image”
The mind is the camera.
With calm-era mind =the 1st phenomenon,
The capture of no’icing’ is prime here! The signal-noise tossup between fore and back ground witnessed’.

And then interpreted without angst‘d dead doubt….

“Not all madness is of artistic interest.”

[5]

“To Love is but the desire to be loved.”
That sounded deep indeed.
But the response from the wizened ‘in’ to the same from the road ahead was:
To receive love on another’s terms is but the (ab initio and preeminently cached), desire to be loved back likewise.

[7]

“No body can [intend to] dress innocently.”

[8]

Apropos the Boar ‘Star’ avataar at traffic junkshuns….

“Vaaraaha waa(r) indha whirled-ai kaa?” (tam. = Varaaha avatar do manifest to ease trafficKing jam?)

[9]

“adhyaa-‘rope’ apavaada” does point to the retraction [= apavaada], of the snake-error superimposed “[“falsely seen as true”= “adhyaaropa”] in place of a rope actually ‘there’.

I congratulate my friend and fellow artist Ganesh on his firm laconic confident presentation of nature in Her spatial and temporal cyclic curves, and by jove the mystic insides calm’moun’ to all.

“Such a journey transforms the earth into a ‘mine’ of gold.”

Ekalokam Trust’s project under their PHOTOGRAPHY & BEYOND series, to release miniature sketch note-books punctuated by a selection of photos serving various themes,  now with ON THE ROAD, kicks off reverberating from Arunachala “sonagiri” the hill of gold.

Auvoir ‘on THE ROAD’

The show was concluded on 3rd August and this opening show of the year-long exhibition series ‘Photography and beyond’ was viewed and enjoyed by several people. The success of the show is in the level of enjoyment the rural audience had… the sounds of children running around the small rooms of Kalai Illam shouting, “this is my favorite…” , “Look, this is what I like…” continue to linger. There have been visitors who were amazed at the first sight and then spent hours looking and re-looking the paintings, enjoying and grasping every bit of the story the painting had to reveal.  One elderly visitor became quite silent… and stirring after two hours, whispered to us, “I am now flooded with memories of my own journey… I remember my childhood…..it is as if the artist has peeped into my own past and has created these paintings…”. 

Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

On 4th August 2014, the painted walls were washed off…. However, these walls continue to proudly hold the heartening memories and life experiences artistically shared by the artist Ganeshbabu Chembayil…. The journey of Ganeshbabu chembayil from a remote village in Kerala to our ancient town, traversing several places, countries, embracing memorable happy and sad moments has now become a hidden part of these walls…

Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
Auvoir on THE ROAD / Image by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

Not only the walls and our beloved art lovers, the photographs made of the show will also keep the memory of this unique exhibition alive…  EtP has extensively documented the paintings. Chennai based Project 365 photographer Panneer Selvam helped EtP to photo-document the entire show. Ganeshbabu chembayil plans to continue the ‘on THE ROAD’ show by further working on the photographs of the paintings… EtP plans to publish a book. In all likelihood, these fragments from ‘on THE ROAD’ show will be exhibited in other parts of our country… 

on THE ROAD continue to remain alive due to the photographs. This is the beauty, strength and profundity of the photography medium. 

Thank you. 

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to EtP Archives. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. If you need more information contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com