Jenny Pinto's art on paper

Jenny Pinto  

In the digital age, Jenny Pinto loves to be called a paper designer. She gave up a thriving career in advertising in Mumbai to make paper from banana fibre in a quaint and eco-friendly studio on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

“I felt an instant connect with paper when I decided to take up a craft to calm my frenzied nerves. I wanted to do something at my own pace; where I didn’t have to chase deadlines. Basically, it was about finding myself,” she says, standing amidst stunning hand-made lamps of various shapes and sizes at The Folly in Amethyst.

Jenny happily goes through the rigour — first cooking or boiling the fibre, then beating, sieving, and pressing it to drain the moisture, and finally, allowing it to dry naturally. No chemicals are used at any stage. “It’s wonderful to see the paper assume shapes, depending on whether it is dried in the shade or in sun. I never start with a design concept. I keep exploring. Most often, it emerges from mistakes. Like the American cartoonist Scott Adams said, ‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’ So, often I am left wondering how to take forward the mistake and give it direction,” she laughs.

Initially, she experimented with all kinds of fibres, since all plant material makes paper. “I used assorted grass, jute, pineapple, before I decided to stick to banana fibre, which is easily available in the South, and lokta that I source from the North-East, which gives paper a good translucency.”

Weather plays a crucial role in Jenny’s work. Paper is sculpted best when wet, and shouldn’t be allowed to dry excessively, as it could become brittle. She uses wires and liners to hold the paper. From huge boxy roof lights, to table lamps, tall lamps with crushed-paper shades, quirky geometrical lamps, cylindrically-shaped woven lamps and those with laser-cut finish, it’s incredible that the plain, simple paper can lend itself to such works of art.

“My favourites are those with laser cut (the finesse makes them look like crochet or lace). With crushing, the options are endless. I have also been into paper weaving. Paper is sturdy enough to be put on the loom {her collaboration with studio-weaver Julie Kagti won her the Elle Decor International Design Award in 2004}.”

Though most of the lamps are in the original colour of the fibre, Jenny sometimes uses subtle colours made from natural dyes. In the 18 years that she has been practising this craft, Jenny has rediscovered its many facets during her extensive work with interior designers and architects.

“Internet and travel have made people more aware. The young, especially, are conscious not only about the way they look, but also want to make their house look good. The acceptance now for something new and unusual is much more. It’s a very conducive environment for creativity,” says Jenny, who is in the city to exhibit her work. She doesn’t usually travel far with the lamps, since it’s cumbersome to pack and unpack them.

Jenny is happy that there are many converts to her organic decorative lamps that cast a warm glow on everything, “including the people in the space”.

The exhibition is on till October 16.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 10:00:19 AM |

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