Leaf, wood, seashells and palm leaf bring an earthy resonance to the Tribal Craft Exhibition currently on in the city. Celebrating the essentially ‘natural’ roots of handicrafts, the exhibition has on display creative expressions ranging from sculptor Rajah’s imaginative terracotta forms to Jayachandran’s traditional woodcraft panels and urns, innovative shell artefacts and jewellery, tribal art on silk, Saura art panels, jute bags and much more.

“I take my inspiration from the leaf,” says Rajah, “I have studied thousands of leaves, the structure, shape and curvilinear beauty”. His terracotta urns, vases and wall hangings, which are a seamless blend of art and craft, have the leaf – or occasionally the alien- as the leitmotif. Folded or splayed out or even forming the entire structure of a vase are some of his intriguing compositions. His work is seen mostly in the natural colour of the earth, though a few pots are painted. “They are perfect for both indoor décor and as garden accessories,” says this fine arts student from the Government School of Art, Egmore, who has majored in sculpture.

Jayachandran’s well crafted wooden panels depicting deities and epic stories, wall hangings and wall brackets come in both the natural wood colour and is also painted in shades of blue, black and green. Jayachandran, a national awardee, comes from a paramparik family of Srikalahasti who have been crafting wood for the past 20 years. “We make our own tools,” he says and adds, “and I work from my house”. His three ft. tall Marapaachi bomais and other icons show superb artisanship.

The other ‘earthy’ crafts on display are Munna’s trendy to traditional terracotta jewellery painted in lyrical colours. The pristine beauty of shells is reflected in wonderfully conceptualised shell trays and screens. Tribal Craft Exhibition is on at Sri Sankara Hall, TTK Road, Alwarpet, till July 7.