An exhibition of photographer Prathap Joseph’s prints showing the growth of an ash gourd is on at Durbar Hall art gallery

Watching an ash gourd plant grow is pure inspiration. Fresh shoots take on a fluorescent shade of green glistening in the sun, new tendrils curl in dainty spirals and myriad little creatures come to visit. Photographer Prathap Joseph knows what it is to feel truly inspired by a humble ash gourd plant. He began observing it casually, but gradually, it became an obsession of sorts. In six months, he had clicked about 6,000 photographs of it and written innumerable poems on it.

Laser prints

An exhibition of the vinyl and laser prints of a few of these photographs titled ‘Oru Kumbalavalliyumothulla Ente Jeevitham’ roughly translated as ‘My Life with an Ash Gourd Stalk’, is on at the Durbar Hall Art Gallery. All the 125 visuals on display have pretty green wisps on solid black background. His lens has captured butterflies, smaller flies, spiders, lady birds and water droplets on the plant in immaculate detail. Most of the works are also accompanied by Prathap’s delightful verse. “I started off as a poet, then became a journalist and then found myself fascinated by photography,” he says. “When you are deeply moved by something, poetry is what comes to you first.”

“It is easy to understand the irresistible temptation of a photographer to take off into the wild seeking fantastic visuals of glamorous creatures. The smaller creatures that we find around us are often ignored and I feel it is important to document your own surroundings first,” he says. Prathap says he could identify 40 different creatures that visited this one particular plant.

The concept of documenting micro life around him is also Prathap’s way of expressing solidarity with the victims of Endosulfan in Kasaragod and the activists fighting against the Kudankulam project. Though he is currently working as a freelance documentary cameraman, Prathap’s passion lies in doing something that relates to the cause of the marginalised.

He has conducted exhibitions in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kodungallur and he has won the State’s Science, Technology and Environment Department’s award in 2012 for his works.

The exhibition is on at Durbar Hall Art Gallery till June 2.