An artwork nook in Kochi is bringing ladies artists collectively

Artist Victoria AM has rallied ladies to kind a sisterhood of assist and discover skilled vitality at her artwork gallery, Namasthe Art Center in Mattancherry

Artist Victoria AM has rallied ladies to kind a sisterhood of assist and discover skilled vitality at her artwork gallery, Namasthe Art Center in Mattancherry

In June 2021, when Victoria AM opened her studio — which had been closed for a number of months as a result of lockdowns — she discovered that the enforced closure and the monsoon rains had precipitated a lot devastation. “I was mentally destroyed,” she recollects. Her sequence of work on the Kerala Floods of 2018, which was to have been her entry to the Lokame Tharavadu present, had been ravaged.

A devastated Victoria gathered the moldy water-stained canvases and torched them. She remembers “those terrible days when there was no income”. Then she contracted COVID-19. But at a time, “when things were coming apart”, Victoria discovered hope in “my angels”, a brand new sequence of works on those that helped her throughout these darkish days.

In her 60s, Victoria says that life has been laborious for girls artists, particularly throughout the pandemic. In the start of 2022, she started Advent, a sequence of works by ladies artists at Namasthe Art Cener, her 160-sq.ft area in Mattancherry. Her solely hassle on this employed area is the shortage of a rest room. Victoria hopes her well being will allow her to host ladies artists as continuously as potential. After Advent -3, Austria based mostly Malayali artist Deepa Chandran Ram is to exhibit her works. She additionally plans to have artwork camps for girls.

A sisterhood

So far, round 25 artists — starting from school college students to senior artists — have exhibited their works and the third version of Advent is ongoing. The steady reveals have rallied the ladies right into a sisterhood of assist, solace {and professional} vitality.

“I am happy that my space has become a rallying place for women artists,” says Victoria. “They exhibit their works, meet, chat, find support and comfort and many launch themselves from here. It’s very satisfying.”

Radha Gomathy, who was at Victoria’s side during her fight, commends the latter’s bravery in the face of extreme adversity. “I remember talking to her about payment of electricity bills and of art at the same time,” smiles Victoria.

A group of young artists with Victoria AM , right

A gaggle of younger artists with Victoria AM , proper

Anu Zafran, who’s exhibiting 4 works, discovered Victoria by a ladies’s group on WhatsApp. “It was a brave move to give us the gallery, her time and effort. As women, we have to find support for ourselves and Victoria is an inspiration. She has kept afloat and going despite all her problems,” says Anu, adding that initially she felt diffident about expressing herself but such a group and gallery gives her confidence.

Sandhyambika, a self-taught artist and professional banker, says her work ‘Thottavadi’ or Touch me Not is a about her being labeled thus. The work which has squirrels and birds among the plants is about the strength of a woman. “The plant is strong and so are women,” says the artist.

Work by artist Anu Zafran

Work by artist Anu Zafran

Mural artist Lekha Vyloppilly, whose works draw from Indian custom, is happy to be a part of Advent. Though she doesn’t determine with “gender tags” in artwork, she feels that such initiatives go a good distance in supporting ladies.

Though the gross sales from the reveals haven’t resulted in substantial transactions (there have been 4 gross sales within the first version), Victoria has been drawing consumers to her small and cosy nook.

Jeevadhyanam, by Lekha Vyloppilly.  Rice paper on canvas/coffee wash and water color pencil

Jeevadhyanam, by Lekha Vyloppilly. Rice paper on canvas/espresso wash and water coloration pencil

Early craving

As a faculty lady in her Sree Moolagramam, she was seen for her “special drawings” however artwork was not a discipline to be chosen as a profession, and definitely not for women. She went on to review Sanskrit and philosophy. When Victoria got here to Kochi as a bride, 40 years in the past, she needed to put aside her ardour for artwork to be a homemaker. Though she did not contact a paintbrush for 10 years, her husband (photographer Boney Keyar) and her father-in-law, artist -photographer, KR Antony, inspired her to be taught. She recollects telling her husband that it was paints she craved for, not a sari.

In the early Nineties she participated in a gaggle present. Her entry, ‘The elephant bathtub’, was an unframed work “on a piece of paper stuck on the wall” at Maulana Azad Library in Kochi. This was adopted by one other group present at Maharaja’s College. Later Victoria labored as an artwork instructor and taken care of Captain Ludwig’s Cochin Art Gallery at Princess Street in Fort Kochi, the place her expertise was acknowledged. She additionally labored with the Cochin Corporation for 5 years on their ladies and youngsters scheme. Awareness packages at grassroot degree. She additionally started writing poetry and co-authored an anthology with German artist Lieselotte Stieger.

Women have been the topic of Victoria’s works, and this continues in her position as gallerist. “I have women’s interests in mind. I like the subject: women and children,” says Victoria gazing on the vibrant pink bougainvillea flowers exterior her gallery.

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