FRIDAY REVIEW

Restoring period furniture

PUSHPA CHARI

REINVENTING HERITAGE: Maindoor frame worth Rs. 2.5 lakhs. Photo: S. Thanthoni.

REINVENTING HERITAGE: Maindoor frame worth Rs. 2.5 lakhs. Photo: S. Thanthoni.  

Imagine walking through a door whose frame consists of four layers of superbly sculpted `yaalis' and `annapakshis' and perched on top a Gajalakshmi studded with real rubies or a magnificient rosewood linen press cupboard, sporting curving drawers and the owner's court of arms — a perfectly crafted Edwardian Raj Colonial piece. Carved period consoles, brass beds, boatman's chairs, zamindari purdah, all this and much more is on view at Sri Vrikshalaya's exhibition of period restoration furniture, which is going on at 19/a, Balaji Nagar 1st street, Royapettah.

The meticulously built up collection is the result of years of scouring private collections of furniture and collectibles from zamindari, royal and middle class families by V. Balaji, who detects the unusual and the beautiful piece even under layers of dust and fissures. He and his team restore them and put them to their original glory.

The exhibition offers a delightful furniture experience — from clay pot decorated all over with Tanjore painting and gold foil and an intricately sculpted panel to Chettinadu bamboo baskets. Camphor chests with sprays of ebony inlay work sit amidst carved ivory inlay swings and cradles. Period consoles and sideboards, corner stands and wine cabinets waiting to be restored, catch the eye with their impeccable workmanship and period charm. Eleven feet tall satinwood Chettinadu pillars add a touch of architectural elegance while brightly tiled Chettinadu coffee tables bring a lot of colour.

More exotic elements are present in the form of half moon stained glass pieces melding greens and blues, a stained glass Hyderabadi sherbet stand which could double up as a portable bar, an enormous antique fan cum chandelier and even an old Spencer's hat stand.

For door lovers the exhibition has a wide choice of massive, deftly carved teak doors. The exhibition is on till January 8, 2006.

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