Mahula Ghosh uses tea bags, tasting cups and packing crates to highlight a cause

While enjoying a cup of tea, seldom do we feel the ominous echo plaguing the tea gardens, say of Dooars, Terai, Darjeeling and Dagapur in West Bengal. Meanwhile, Mahula Ghosh, an artist from that State, embarks upon a silent revolution to bring the industrial encroachment of tea gardens and the plight of the workers to notice with her artworks. An exhibition of her works, “Cut-Tear-Curl”, which borrows its name from CTC, was organised by Anant Art at Shridharani Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, recently.

The third solo exhibition of the artist, who holds an MFA from Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, takes us through a contrasting panorama — from women rhythmically plucking the tea leaves with baskets upon their backs to barren stout bushes with artificial green buds. Used tea bags, tea tasting cups and bowls, cloth bags, tea boxes and packing crates are all used as material and matrix that directly or indirectly relate to her subject. Drawing heavily from her growing up days in Siliguri, she depicts the ambience of picturesque tea gardens with acrylic and thread work on rice paper and tea bags.

Mahula paints the surface of tea bags with the faces of the women who pluck the leaves. Every tea bag reminds us of its human element. Another series with tea bags depicts the mechanised processes of tea production. In one of her paintings depicting Mothers' Club, formed against the men's self-announced privilege over the women's earnings, she creates a tea stain to add to the complexities of the women's lives.

On the other hand, one can sense the semblance of ‘organic India' in her repetitive use of the colour green.

Honoured with the Pollock Krasner Award from New York in 2009, Mahula is looking forward to taking the problems of women and children in the Capital as the theme of her next work.