Kolkata, Nov.9 : Sharmistha Mullick, an art collector in Kolkata, is trying to give embroidery; a fabric embellishment technique, a new expression by presenting it in an unconventional art form.
She has received training in embroidery for about three years and has been seeking to give it a new definition since 1992.
At first glance, it is possible that one may mistake her collected works for paintings or pencil sketches.
Sharmistha says that painting with a brush and colours is much easier. She says mixing can change colours, one can almost re-do the whole work on canvas by colouring over. However, for embroidery art, there are no such easy avenue.
From sunlight filtering down on trees to a crow perched delicately on the head of a statue, from Rajasthani women dancing to the anxious face of an old woman and legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray to Amitabh Bachchan, from cats to Goddess Durga, Sharmistha's art charms everyone by her themes and depiction.
"The process starts with sketching, then I use pastel colours to colour the sketch marginally to get an idea. Then I create the idea on cloth through embroidery. I want people to recognize this. I want to teach others too to prevent this art from dying. This traditional talent surely needs revival but not in the ordinary way of bed covers etc or through a few kantha stitches, but it has to be evolved more and accepted as art," says Sharmistha.
"Even though earlier women like our mothers, grandmothers and other household women used to do embroidery for passing their time. But now women can realize through this that embroidery need not be merely for passing time, it can evolve into art like paintings. This work is a revival of a traditional skill. It makes one happy," Sharmistha said.
"Changing the threads constantly does shades. The threads of different colours are used to create a particular shade. Like the cats' eyes, I used different threads - blue, yellow - for each stitch to get the perfect shade," she explained.
Talking about her variety of works, she said: "I do all kinds of work. I try to depict folk art, which is close to my heart. It needs revival. I also do modern work, portraits, animals etc. I like faces - old and young. I have done a piece on Kolkata - a mix of old and new - hand rickshaw puller carrying a girl talking on the mobile phone. I have done works on Rajasthan. I do everything that catches my fancy."
Sharmistha's husband Sudhir wasn't sure about what his wife exactly intended to achieve in embroidery since she started embroidered work. "Ever since I have started taking interest in embroidery works, I have been astonished to see such beautiful pieces of art form," said Sudhir.
"The works depict nature, human faces, human reactions - all have been presented. But moreover, it has changed our opinion of embroidery. That such fine details can be exposed through needle and thread, even better than oil painting, was something not known to me before I arrived here. It's really outstanding work," said Partho Pratim, one viewer.
Even though embroidery has been a traditional art form in the general household, especially in small towns and the rural parts of the country, the latest attempt to present it distinctly before the art lovers may generate a new enthusiasm and charm for this art.