Sunday, February 22, 2009

My experiments with urban waste

Over the years, in our annual exhibitions, I have experimented with urban waste, as a source of art and expression. Initially, I worked with various discarded auto parts - I had an old car that frequently threw up these various parts at me! 
I recall using these old silencers with the exhaust pipes forming the main lines! My father gave me some tips as to how to make them stand, and where I could fill water, for the fresh material!  My mother of course was the sounding board and provided me the encouragement  to try this idea.  It was also the first time that I worked with limoneum, the everlasting flower, which was used to soften the harsh, metallic lines of the pipes.

I imagined the creation to show how even in our urban jungles, there are spots of life (the red carnations!), to brighten our life, and all we need to do is to look out for them.

2006-car radiators!
Originally uploaded by ambikach2002

The next year, and I had some discarded radiators to work with! They provided "surfaces", but lacked colour and focus.  Coloured berries and bleached and painted coconut fibre I thought provided a dramatic effect!  However, many of my friends who saw this stood in disbelief that I could call this Ikebana!!  Like a mother defending her child though, I have a soft corner for this creation, and actually prefer it over my earlier attempt, which I thought was childish.

What do you think?

2007-plastic hose
Originally uploaded by ambikach2002
The next year, we sold the car, and with it went my "source" of material! 

That was the time when the streets of Madras were all being dug up, and optic fibre cables were being laid. Wherever you looked you saw ditches with colourful plastic cables sticking out, causing my mother to exclaim that wouldn't those cables be a good material to work with for Ikebana!

That was the inspiration behind the 2007 composition, which I labelled Urbania.  It reminded me of a city's night life, neon lights and cars with headlights.

I have also used thermocol as a "vase", over the years.  There's so much of it that lies around, coming as packing material with anything that you buy!

And they have such interesting shapes and dramatic forms as well!  

Here are some of the creations.  

Originally uploaded by ambikach2002

Originally uploaded by ambikach2002

I have enjoyed creating these works, but I know that quite often it does not appeal to the purist.

For some reason though, I am drawn to the abstract designs that I see in these waste products, and enjoy the creative process of working with them!


Venkatesh said...

Great that the car gave you free materials for your ikebana :) Me and my daughter recall that Radiator often :) And now, whenever we see thermocole in any arragement, we immediately say "There is Ambika.." :) All those thermocole works were unique and nice.

Venkatesh said...

Hey, you posted more, as I was writing the earlier comment... Nice work. Your explanation to the exhaust pipe is really wonderful. The carnations symbolising the sparks of life and all... Urbania attracted me quite a lot, when I was first looking at Ikebana pics on the net.. 2008 was good too. About the radiator, i wrote earlier and you said enough :)

Keith said...

Great use of unusual materials!Some thought really went in to how to use them in a strong, bold way. Good work!

Anonymous said...

Ambika, I recalled every one of the arrangements and remembered how I had to coax you with the exhaust pipes, it looks great to my mind even after these years. Yes the optic fibre is too good, why have you withdrawn from these "urbania" creations? Malathi.

Anonymous said...

i m reaaly impressed with ur idea of using thermocols in such a creative way..even i hc so many thermocols lying as a packaged material for home theatre systm.. etc..even i want to make use of them..tell me how can i use it??

flowergirl said...

Anonymous, what can I say...experiment, try let your creativity free!