Her stall is a departure from the spate of homemade food stuff that hog much of the venue of Kudumbasree SJSRY Ramzan-Onam Mela 2012 at Putharikandam maidanam.
A riot of colour makes it even more striking, with painted terracotta pots, bamboo pen-stands, paper-weights and mural paintings. Inside the stall, Syamala Kumari, a traditional mural artist, sits feeling proud that her stall is a pleasant surprise for many at the fair.
“With the title of the Mela having ‘Kudumbasree’ in it, customers automatically assume that the products on display will be food products such as pickles and snack items, medicinal and Ayurvedic oils and, maybe, a couple of homemade jewellery items,” she says.
Syamala Kumari has been to many Kudumbasree Melas, and in every such event, the mural paintings in various shapes and forms still turn heads for the simple fact that it is not something that many would expect in such expos.
She and her husband, G. Azhicode, whose major works include the paintings at the Navarathri Mandapam of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, have been involved in the profession for over 12 years now, and Syamala Kumari is confident of how far-reaching the traditional art still is.
“We work, depending on the orders we get and such fairs are ideal platforms for us to slowly build a client base,” she says, confidently adding that she will not be surprised if she could find her family’s mural work in places abroad as well. Syamala Kumari is also involved in an exhibition held in Bangladesh, under the aegis of SAARC, she says.
Her love for the art is apparent in the work around. The swirl of hues around her have been painted meticulously with a thin sketch made at first, and step-by-step, colour-by-colour, the final impressive piece is unveiled. Even her visiting card bears semblances of mural paint work.
The family, including Syamala Kumari’s son, Biju, cater to the specific needs of the buyers as well.
“They tell us what dimensions they want the painting in, what subject to be conveyed, what item to be painted on, and we custom-make the objects,” she explains, adding the aside from the archetypal terracotta pots and canvas paintings, the bamboo items have had plenty of takers as well.