Chennai | Lady Andal School unveils a 40-feet installation by artist Parvathi Nayar

A 40-feet installation modelled after a dreamcatcher at Lady Andal School melds the sciences, arts and architecture

February 08, 2024 02:15 pm | Updated 02:15 pm IST

Students interacting with the Dreamcatcher

Students interacting with the Dreamcatcher | Photo Credit: special arrangement

In true weekday spirit, Lady Andal School is a picture of delightful chaos as students in neatly pressed uniforms get ready for what seems to be a typical school day. The well-lit corridors of the new wing of the school, built around a towering banyan tree, are alive with activity. These corridors also lead one’s eyes to what seem to be circular discs with coloured dots suspended in air. A closer view look takes us to a 40-feet vertical installation titled Dreamcatcher, by Chennai-based visual artist Parvathi Nayar. 

The artwork that climbs across four floors lends a different perspective each time one looks at it. An abstraction of the run-of-the-mill dreamcatcher, the structure comprises over 120 circular discs, each carrying the artist’s interpretation of a concept or idea through colourful dots. Each disc is a puzzle in itself, and invites interaction. 

A cross section of the installation as seen from the corridor

A cross section of the installation as seen from the corridor | Photo Credit: special arrangement

The interpreted ideas are a mixture of the sciences, the arts and concepts from the IB  (International Baccalaureate) programme the students are a part of. Here, everything from a contemporary take on the traditional kolam to the concept of recycling and renewable energy, cloud computing and even Van Gogh can be seen. “I invite the students to open it out and see it in multiple ways. The fun thing is for them to decode it,” says the artist who has been working on the installation for eight months. While sketching and drawing, the idea of a crocheted dreamcatcher struck the artist. The base of the structure in each floor is an abstraction of designs often found in a dreamcatcher.  “Part of it is also ‘form follows function’. The installation was not shoe-horned into the structure, rather space was left for it. The next question was how can I use dots in a way that is relatable to the pedagogy as well,” adds the artist, whose penchant for dots and pixels is no news. 

The scale of the installation also calls for novel ways of interpretation. “The idea is that as the students go higher up in classes, they discover something new in their dreamcatcher,” says Parvathi. Setting it up involved immense plotting, says the artist. The sizes and placement of each disc had to be carefully measured to create the complex, but meticulous web currently on display . The way sunlight hits the installation on each floor lends it a luminescent quality. 

Parvathi Nayar

Parvathi Nayar | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“One of my favourite discs depicts sound or water waves that originate from a single red dot,” says Parvathi. The artist sat with the faculty before conceptualising the piece to understand the IB programme better. “It would be fun for me to sit with the teachers and discuss ways in which they can make this come alive with the students,” says the artist. “The school should also be acknowledged for thinking about how art could be integrated into its architecture ,” says Parvathi. 

Conquering the sheer scale of the artwork was challenging. “I had to think of a way that is relevant to the site, one that speaks to pedagogy, both aesthetically and physically,” continues Parvathi. 

The interactivity of the structure is important to its functionality. “When children are exposed to the arts in their cognitive years, it changes them; it is a tool to expand their way of thinking. Art is empathetic. It encourages them to see the world in their own special way,” concludes Parvathi.  

A look inside the installation

A look inside the installation | Photo Credit: special arrangement

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