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Ankon Mitra
India
Goddess Lakshmi’s Conch Shell Light

Tell us about your piece and how it represents the Country that you are from?

Goddess Lakshmi is the deity of wealth, prosperity and well-being in Hinduism; She is accompanied by a wise owl (which is often thought to be a symbolic representation of Lord Vishnu). Lakshmi’s presence is announced by blowing a large traditional conch during traditional rituals and acts of workship. In temples across India, the motifs of the owl and the conch have come to be inseparably linked with the auspicious presence of Lakshmi. This work uses the dual techniques of Origami (for the conch-shell form) and Kirigami (for the Owl motif) and combines them into a large-gnomon-like human sized installation. The final artefact acts both like a lighting installation as well as like a marker in space, owing to its size and sculptural quality.

What was the most challenging part of the brief?

In the Studio, we usually do not pick curvilinear motifs for Kirigami works - the straight lines of the Kirigami usually emerge from the Origami faces themselves. I made an exception this time and chose a Shantiniketan School of Art inspired motif for the Owl, a heavily curving and volute-inspired language. Shantiniketan was established by Nobel laureate, artist and writer Rabindranath Tagore and the art school at one point produced highly stylized patterns inspired by ‘Alpana’ or floor-painting mandalas that are so popular in Bengal and this part of Asia. The Kirigami was thus an interpretation of such a traditional pattern and converting it into fretwork/cutwork panels was both challenging and exciting. 

What part of the brief did you enjoy the most?

The translation of traditional iconography of my culture into a contemporary craft object was the most enjoyable part of the brief. Creating a human-sized sculpture in paper was very satisfying from a structural and geometry standpoint - the object stands on its own without any support! And as always, the Origami (act of scoring, creasing and folding) was most meditative, especially when the subject of the work involved reflecting on the energies of the Goddess. A temple in my city is already interested in having many of these as hanging pendant lamps in one of its assembly halls! 

How did you enjoy working with Excel Blades?

Brilliant! I am a new initiate to Excel Blades and it was a very good experience. Using 3 different types of paper (tracing paper, gold-foil card, ivory carton card) and  different thicknesses (70 GSM, 200 GSM and 300 GSM) proved to be a very smooth affair with Excel Blades and scalpel. The grips are very comfortable and changing the blades is super easy. I am now a convert and will not go back to the cutters I used earlier!    

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