FRIDAY REVIEW

Elegance in teak

Combining Dutch solidity with local motifs, it brings back memories of a more gracious lifestyles.

Combining Dutch solidity with local motifs, it brings back memories of a more gracious lifestyles.  

CLASSIC COLONIALISM may have become part of history but the cross-pollination of cultures as reflected in art, craft and architecture, which resulted from it, continues to cast a spell.

This fascination can be seen at an exhibition of teak reproduction of Dutch colonial furniture from Indonesia, which is currently attracting period furniture buffs at Amethyst, 14, Padmavathy Road, Jeypore Colony, Chennai-86.

Combining Dutch solidity with local motifs and craft skills, the sofas, chairs, chaise lounges, planters and whatnots bring back the nostalgia of more gracious lifestyles. And reflecting an even more ancient cultural influence namely the Hindu ethos, are Balinese artefacts and craft objects, also on display and sale at the exhibition.

Fascinating teak reproduction of Dutch colonial furniture from Indonesia.

Fascinating teak reproduction of Dutch colonial furniture from Indonesia.  

With a proliferation of furniture exhibitions, Chennai is now familiar with Indonesian-Dutch Colonial forms. However, the Amethyst exhibition showcases some unusual items, such as very elegant roll top tables, which combine with glassed-in storage space, both above and below the desk to create a novel furniture concept.

Chinese corner chairs teamed with a hexagonal table to make a Victorian conversational corner is another interesting novelty as are the straight backed Dutch chairs, painted black which can bring interesting accents to the starkest of modern interiors.

There are enormous Chinese style buffets with wine cabinets and storage drawers, `opium' tables with typically curving legs, planters, a carved dining table set in the Dutch Colonial style, low tables painted with gold leaf and sets of attractive slatted garden or verandah chairs, reminiscent of their Raj counterpart in India of the same period.

Among the most elegant forms on display are European style cane sofa sets, circular Dutch portable bars and Chinese style occasional tables. And not to be missed, a Thai `elephant reclining sofa', so named since it is constructed to replicate a Thai style `howdah'.

The Balinese artefacts comprise masks with distinct Hindu overtones such as `bindis' on their foreheads etc. and well crafted and woven cane basketry and boxes as well as intricately carved bone artefacts celebrating Vishnu, Rama and scenes from Hindu mythology.

For those looking for the unusual, `The Heirlooms' exhibition showcases sculpted coconut shells and a Balinese `rainmaker', an etched bamboo flute-like contraption with seeds inside, which when shaken creates the sound of falling rain!

The `Heirlooms Furniture' exhibition-cum-sale concludes on November 3.

PUSHPA CHARI

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