Art

Breathing new life into labour

Print edition : May 11, 2018

The Triumph of Labour statue created by Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhury on the Marina. Photo: K. Padmapriya

The defunct museum at the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai. Photo: K. Padmapriya

C.P. Krishnapriya, who curated the work of students from three colleges in south India at the Students' Biennale. Photo: Ponraj Kumar

The Government College of Fine Arts with the “school of arts” brick in the foreground. Photo: K. Padmapriya

Group of carpenters at work, Madras, 1870. Photo: British Online Library

Group of domestic servants at Madras in Tamil Nadu, 1870. Photo: British Online Library

Re-click: Group of carpenters. Photo: K. Padmapriya

Re-click: Group of domestic servants. Photo: K. Padmapriya

Portrait of a seated girl wearing jewellery, Madras in Tamil Nadu, 1872. Photo: British Online Library

Re-click: Portrait of a seated girl wearing jewellery. Photo: M. Sinduja

Gentoo dancing girls of Madras displaying jewellery, 1870. Photo: British Online Library

Re-click: Dancing girls displaying jewellery. Photo: A. Sandhiya

Jewellery worn by weavers of Madras, 1870. Photo: British Online Library

Re-click: Jewellery worn by weavers. Photo: K. Padmapriya

“Triumph of Labour-reimagined”, oil and acrylic painting. Photo: K. Padmapriya

Another interpretation of the Triumph of Labour statue. Photo: K. Narendran

“Mother accounted”, M. Sinduja’s work features a dosa pan her mother used. Photo: K. Padmapriya

A joint work titled “Labouring women” is a Kalamkari saree with natural pigments on cloth. Photo: K. Padmapriya

At the Students’ Biennale in Kochi. Photo: K. Padmapriya

In an artists book series titled “Lives: Workers and Work”, a series of drawings and paintings bring out the various aspects of labour that go into the creation of a work of art as well as life; shown here, railway track cleaners. Photo: A. Kameshwaran

In an artists book series titled “Lives: Workers and Work”, a series of drawings and paintings bring out the various aspects of labour that go into the creation of a work of art as well as life; shown here, weavers. Photo: P. Ranjith Kumar

A womb within a bearing, a woodcarving by K. Deepika, who hails from a family of woodworkers. Photo: K. Padmapriya

A bust of Revathy, a railway track cleaner at the Central station in Chennai. Photo: K. Padmapriya

Students documented the work of bronze sculptors in workshops in Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam, in a video titled “Pattarai within pattarai, play within work”. Photo: G. Ranjitha

Students documented the work of bronze sculptors in workshops in Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam, in a video titled “Pattarai within pattarai, play within work”. Photo: Ranjitha G.

From time to time, artists have celebrated the triumph of labour. With their collection of works, a group of art students from Tamil Nadu now turns the focus on the lives and concerns of labourers.
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