Landmarks and scenes of Chennai were created through interesting patchworks at an exhibition by the students of NIFT

You saw Chennai in prose, poetry, movies, music, sketches, paintings (realistic and abstract), graffiti and cartoons: now see the city in 11”x11” patched quilt-work at NIFT, stitched up by the fourth semester students of the textile department. “A special show at Spectrum — the Cultural Fest with Gorgeous GenNext as its theme, Patched-up Namma Chennai is the city seen through the eyes of a group of mostly-from-outside-Chennai students,” explained Anitha M Mabel, director, NIFT.

“What you see in these quilted patches are the vignettes that caught their attention in the last year and a half. The exhibition extends the fashion legacy of Chennai.” The students tried surface-design technique and educated themselves on patch work, said B. Karthikeyan, Associate Professor, NIFT.

It’s not just the one-and-a-half-month-project that we are showcasing, he added, but also the space to put the works up. The Gallery, the exhibition area too was inaugurated. It was patch-work all the way. The chief-guest, Sheela Rani Chunkath, IAS had to assemble stiff cloth pieces in a jig-saw puzzle to find the event logo, and then attach lovely cloth-flames to the mounted patch-work of a lamp, to inaugurate the show.

The exhibition is one-of-a-kind, smiled P. Chandini, a participant. “The process of setting up the gallery was initiated by associate professors Karthikeyan and M. Vasantha, who stood by giving us their expert guidance through every difficult step,” she said. A brainstorming session helped them zone in on the theme and draw the list of “Elements of Chennai” to be worked upon. A huge amount of R&D about fabrics, textures and colour combinations was needed before they could sit down to cut and stitch up the patch-work pieces. “Numerous techniques related to the concepts and fabrics were discussed and discarded before the final ones were picked. Apart from patchwork, we have used embroidery, appliqué and quilting.” Her work depicting Pongal in Chennai has elements of all these, she pointed out.

Then there was the display — mounting, writing the accompanying text, placing the works in the gallery.

The effect is eye-catching. Fabrics sourced from Paris Corner, Nalli and Spencers Plaza were cut, stitched, stuffed and pasted to create a hut/cone dosa on a plate (Sreerag), the chariot of Valluvar Kottam with its drop-down ornaments swaying below the clear sky (Athira), the LIC building rising above the chaos on Anna Salai (Vinay Kumar), the blinding rays of the lighthouse (Payal), the intrepid crows of the city (Soumya), the ever-dashing Thalaiva (Aditi), the popular kemp jewellery (Mridula), idli-vada combo (Neha), molaga bajji (Shushil Kumar), Elliot’s beach at dusk (Riny Mary), the Central Station (Venkata Suresh), the music festival and kolam of Margazhi (Rashmitha), the rich tapestry of the multi-coloured aruvathumoovar festival (Purnima), the delectable corn-on-the-cob (Reshma), ilaneer in abstract (Harshit), mattu pongal, the 3-D effect of the Santhome Basilica (Shivi), mudras during a dance recital (Priyansha), the two-tone positive-negative picture of Chennai’s auto (Sangh Sheel) and the aroma of Chennai — filter coffee in a davara-tumbler with a copy of The Hindu forming the background (Balasri Brintha). A smorgasbord of scenes creating the idea of Chennai, in all its “hues”.

Room 2 had works by students across semesters. Midhila Krishnan has explored the possibility of the miniform (swatches) through fabric manipulation to eye-popping outcome; others had put up woven samples of weaving done on a table-top loom.

Sheela Rani Chunkath, IAS had warm words for the show. “Great initiative by students from the city and from all over India,” she said.