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Lavanya Bahuguna


Artist Ritu Singh Of Wolf Café Takes Us For A Walk Through The Dense Forest Of Scrap Novels

  • IWB Post
  •  January 21, 2017


Artist Ritu Singh, along with her artist husband, has adorned the convention hall at Clarks Amer, Jaipur and how!

Their brand ‘Wolf’ is celebrating a decade of the Jaipur Literature Festival with Bee’17 by bringing art installations, scenography, pop-up retail, music, and food together!

Named ‘The Forest of Forgotten Stories’, the couple’s artwork shows pages of unpublished books hanging from the ceiling, representing thousands of untold stories that probably none of has read. The papers are torn from the trashy novels that are never talked about.7

It’s been 12 years now that she and her husband are creating inspiring art installations across the globe. Using scrap material, they’ve mastered the skill to put across social messages through sculptures. At Bee’17, the couple, along with many national and international artists, is putting up an intense yet spellbinding installation at the hotel.1

Ritu says, “Both of us are collaborative in our work, and hence we always work together. For the show, too, we got ourselves many talents. Together, one can brainstorm well. Our brand is called ‘Wolf’ (Studio Café at Clarks Amer) where artists are invited to make art.”

In the city, Wolf is known as an experimental space for artists and art lovers. Ritu adds, “Our aim is to promote artists and help them reach the masses. Thanks to Timmy Kumar, we could create this space for the artists to come in and work. The madness in the art world is never about making money but making people more conscious about what we create, letting them think out of the box. During Bee’17, we expect the same.”

Ask her about how the people who dare to walk inside an art gallery differ from those who don’t, and she says, “In our country, we perceive art very seriously. It’s considered sophisticated and not everyone’s cup of tea.  Hence, only a handful of us are able to gather courage and walk inside the galleries with the scary ‘Do Not Touch’ signs put in front of the art pieces. I think that art should be made more public so that everyone gets an easy (mental) access to it. I like street art more than anything. One can see it while walking down the street or driving by!”

Intrigued, I asked Ritu with what kind of art she prefers keeping a distance. She answers, “The surreal, the cubism and those contradicting dreams and reality. For me, to fall in love with an artwork happens only after my mind is able to derive a story from it and that has to happen in a few minutes! At Bee’17, every artist’s work has a story or inspiration behind it. The blank cardboards hanging like portraits, the roadside stones being ornamented with bright colors, old home safes put one above the other, everything is sure to speak something to the spectator.”3 4 16

Honestly, for me, gazing at the vast hall and finding every corner being adorned with some or the other kind of fascinating waste material was an experience.

Ritu further explains, “Since the event is called ‘Bee’, we decided to create a hive. Hence, a forest. We have put a scrap-tree at one of these corners….9

...Every now and then, while the guests will take a walk across the ‘temporary’ gallery, white curtains will make an ethereal appearance. These, again, are the waste fabrics which are discarded after the block printing is done on the expensive couture.”15 17


During the stroll through that jungle along with Ritu, I got to know how much the couple loves creating trees! “We love doing trees. We’ve done a few in Jaipur. One of them can be spotted at the SMS school entrance which was made using old books and torn toys. The idea is to inform the kids and their parents about the importance of play other than books. The bloom of the tree is mostly constructed using toys signifying how drastically the growth of a child depends on the amount of time he/she plays.”

Interestingly, not every branch of this tree is ‘green.’ Some are shown dry suggesting that the boredom must prevail in every young mind. “Without it, how will you expect the mad ideas to flow in,” questions Ritu.

Coming back to the hive that they’re currently creating at Clarks Amer, Ritu mentioned about how the husband and wife duo is constantly working keeping the theme in the mind.

“Bee. Hive. Hexagon shapes. Even the threads that are holding the papers are put in accord of the theme. A theater artist friend from Paris has helped us do the threads so that we don’t insert any nail in the walls. We’re trying to give every space some kind of shape here.”10

Before ending the conversation, I asked Ritu about her interesting ‘scrap’ stories and she revealed that the couple loves taking trips to Alang, a place in Gujarat, which is a major worldwide center for ship breaking heaps of scraps. “We go there frequently only to buy scrap materials in which we see art,” smiles Ritu.

Here’s a list of other talented artists/brands who’re be participating the Bee’17:

Brigitte Singh, the block printer

Aish Life, a collection of heirloom textiles

Glenburn Tea Estate, Indian tea collective

Shed, wooden and brass games

Bombay Perfumery, Indian fragrances

Help in Suffering, animal shelter

Rasa, contemporary hand block prints

Shivangi Kasliwaal, designer who revives looms from Varanasi

Tasveer Art Gallery, oldest surviving photo studio in the world

Gwendoline, jewelry house from Paris

Anjana, stone artwork

Sutradhaar, textiles made using waste paperemailer black1

Don’t forget to visit the show and share your views with the talents present there!

Photo courtesy: Chhaveesh Nokhwal

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