Beauty in metal
Saundaryalahari, the arts and crafts store in Indiranagar, has works in copper, brass, and wood, as well as some unusual jewellery
The store has specially designed diyas amonth other things for this festive season.
IF BEAUTY lies in the eyes of the beholder, then a look around this shop is going to have the eyes of the beholder bursting with beauty! To call it a shop seems a little uncultured, for it seems more like a temple of beauty. On a Gulmohar-lined street, off Indiranagar's 100 Feet Road is Saundaryalahari, an art and crafts store that opened recently. This little shop has artworks in copper, brass, and wood, as well as unusual craft objects, and jewellery. Owned and managed by siblings Jayan Krishnan and Kala Ramesh, Saundaryalahari is actually a collection of the works of sculptor C.V. Ramesh, Kala's spouse.
"Ramesh came up with the name and we thought it reflected the spirit of the shop and of the spirit with which we hope to run it," says Kala, sitting at a glass-topped coffee table crafted by Ramesh. Under the glass is a beautifully embossed work in brass and copper that features the sun. Ramesh plans to use metallic zodiac signs as the backs of the chairs, to go with this table!
It is this sense of whimsy and creativity that makes every piece in the shop a work of art. Often people can't see the difference between art and craft, and use the two words interchangeably. Art is what a deeply spiritual person like Ramesh comes up with; craft is when the local carpenter neatly duplicates the piece of furniture. At Saundaryalahari, art and craft both co-exist peacefully. While the artwork Firefly, a stunning copper and brass candleholder, is priced at Rs. 2,000, there are handcrafted terra cotta products, jewellery, and paperweights that are humbly priced.
An attractive display of Kerala jewellery is in demand at the store. The pieces are made with just one gram of gold! Beautifully crafted necklaces are available at Rs. 2,500 onwards, chains at Rs. 1,100, and bangles ranging from Rs. 275 to Rs. 880. Ideal for the festive season, the jewellery does not lose lustre even after constant use. For Deepavali and Christmas, the store plans to have a range of candleholders and diyas in metal.
"Yes, metal is our signature material," affirms Kala. "Ramesh works with various materials, and on different art forms like painting, sculpting, and woodwork, but metal is his passion." That of course is evident even before one enters this neat space the gates carry attractive works of metal art, and the frontage of the shop is embellished with Buddhas, birds, and other interesting pieces of art in metal and wood. Inside the shop, the clean ceramic tiles are interspersed with tiled metal vaastu purushas and other motifs.
Set in pinewood shelves, the artefacts are proof of the artist's painstaking and passionate work.
Jean Letschert Ascharyacharya, Ramesh's guru at Amrutha Bindu Ashram at Vythiri for several years, and now based in Bangalore, once commented: "Under the patient and skilful hands of Ramesh, brass itself starts breathing, wood itself hopes to bud again, and odd items of sorts resurrect from their uselessness, acquiring a personality which no one had given them while using them."
Such praise embarrasses the reticent sculptor, for he believes his inspiration comes from others from the beauty of Shankaracharya's Saundaryalahari, or from the Shiva-Shakthi manifestation in every Srichakra.
Along with making special pieces for the festive season, Ramesh is working on a Srichakra that will grace the cover of a book to be published by DK Publishers on the late Nataraja Guru's commentary of Saundaryalahari.
"We will definitely take orders for special pieces furniture, wall hangings, and sculptures," says Kala, politely omitting to say that a work of art cannot be planned ahead, that it evolves as one makes it, and a certain amount of freedom is required to make an artwork truly satisfying.
The original text of Saundaryalahari is a series of 100 verses describing the Devi's attributes as Absolute Beauty. The word Saundaryalahari is explained as "...An upsurge of or overwhelming billow of Beauty experienced at the neutral meeting point of the inner sense of beauty with its outer counterpart."
"Naturally we hope that visitors to Saundaryalahari will feel such an upsurge, and then we also hope that it will be a reminder to us that the final point of reference of all things beauty, art, work, running a shop, of life itself is God," says Ramesh.
Shunning aggressive marketing techniques, the people behind this beautiful world of art and craft say they would rather put their energy into the shop and wait for people to be taken up by it. Saundaryalahari is at 375, 9th Main, off 100 Feet Road, H.A.L. 2nd Stage, Indiranagar. You can call them on 5282290. You can also e-mail email@example.com
Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
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