India sees its first egg art exhibition ‘Eggxotica' as artist Farha Sayeed turns egg shells into object d'art.

An exquisite chariot with lustrous satin silk seats. The exterior of the chariot is intricately carved with pearls and beads. There is a couple inside the chariot who, it seems are ready to come out through any of its two, well-embossed and decorated doors. Another art piece is an exotic ring holder. Finished with smooth pearls and lined with exquisite beads, you open it to see a delicate ring nestled in blood red, silky smooth satin cushion. A calligraphically-carved lamp catches your attention with its fine finish and so does a stunning black laced photo frame. All these breathtakingly beautiful objects have one thing in common; they are all made out of egg shells, measuring two to six inches. They are olive green, off-white, royal blue and sea green in hue.

These works of art are created by Farha Sayeed, a Hyderabad-based artist. Each of the eggshells are intricately cut, carved and decorated by hand and ornamented using pearls, beads, crystals, brocade, velvet, satin, golden laces and rhinestone chains, making each of the object a masterpiece.

And for the first time, India would see such works at Visual Arts Gallery from this coming Sunday.

Cumbersome process

Equally adept at charcoal, thermocole, tile painting and aluminium foil work, glass painting, glitter and zardozi work and soft-toy making, Farha started working on egg shells 12 years ago. She works with the egg shells of ostrich, emu, turkey, goose and hen. She largely imports them from the US, UK, Australia and Turkey.

Says this 39-year-old mother of three, “Working on these shells is a cumbersome process. I first disinfect them with normal Clorox, then paint them with gesso paint and then apply acrylic painting with sponge for a smooth and equal finish. I design free hand and hence require immense patience. They are very fragile too, so it takes me two to three weeks to complete one design. But the one that I paint, I don't carve and vice-versa. I have to import my tools from the US. These are needle-based rotators. I employ various techniques for cutting, carving, decoupage, trolling, etching, engraving, dyeing and beading. ”

It is not easy for Farha to obtain these egg shells. She moans, “I order the eggs all through the year as these are unfertilised and farm-bred eggs. It's handling at various levels is very insensitive. I often get broken shells and drills with burnt turbine. The replacement takes months together.”

Even the Delhi art galleries, as she rightly points out, are not well-quipped to handle delicate works. “The galleries here, unlike in European and Middle Eastern countries are good only for hanging paintings. So I am getting my own acrylic boxes to display my works.”

Farha, the only Indian member of International Egg Art Guild (IEAG), a non-profit association of artists, artisans and crafts people who work with natural eggs, presented her first show in 2003 in Denmark, followed by a solo in the same country to great appreciation. At Jeddah, Farha's second solo exhibition, ‘Eggcellence' was inaugurated by Her Royal Highness Princess Fahda Bint Al-Saud.

A must watch show continues till April 15.

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