The grinding stones, which was lying scattered at one side of Aspinwall House in Fort Kochi, reminds one of the famous quote by Michaelangelo, one of the world’s greatest sculptors. “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
But when it comes to artist Sheela Gowda from Bangalore who has accumulated these stones from three localities in Bangalore, the statement of Michaelangelo has to be changed a little.
For Sheela is not about to carve new statues out of the stones, but to show the public, at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the art which is hidden inside.
Titled ‘Stopover’, these stones reveal the hidden history behind them. “They were once a part of every household in Karnataka,” she says. “You can see that they are not finely cut, except at one part, where there is a perfect square.”
In olden times, the stones were buried, except for the hole in which the spices would be crushed. Now the stones have been neglected as people have found other ways to grind spices.
“But I see an art hidden in it,” says Sheela. “That is why I have decided to showcase the long-lost tradition through these abstract sculptures.”
Sheela, who has been accompanied by her colleague, Christopher Storz, says that they could procure the stones in an intact condition as the people, who had discarded it, did not break it.
“It might be because of the emotional connect,” says Sheela. “Hence, they just threw them away without causing any damage.”
She says that through their work they want to show how a piece of stone, which has become invisible in the locality, can become visible through an art form.
“The stones, which I have got, are negligible in number,” says Sheela. “I am sure there are several more. Hopefully, through our work, people will become aware of them.”
Sheela says that she decided to showcase this work at Fort Kochi because it has such a rich history in spices.
“Such a history makes it a suitable environment to showcase this artwork,” says Sheela.
published in The New Indian Express