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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 decorated 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Named ‘The Forest of Forgotten Stories,’ the couple’s artwork shows pages of unpublished books hanging from the ceiling, representing thousands of untold stories that probably none of has ever read. The torn papers belong to the ‘trash’ novels that were never discussed in the libraries.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 other national and international artists, is putting up an intense yet spellbinding installation at the Clarks Amer hotel.1

Ritu says, “Both of us believe in healthy collaborations and giving others a stage, too. For the show, we’ve got ourselves many talents. Together, one can brainstorm well. Our brand ‘Wolf’ (Studio Café at Clarks Amer), too, is open for all kinds of artists to make art.”

In Jaipur, Wolf is known as an experimental space for artists and art lovers. Ritu explains, “Our aim is to promote artists and help them reach the masses. 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. For the Bee’17 event, we expect the same to happen.”

Talking about the acceptance of modern art in India, she says, “In our country, we perceive art as a very serious matter. It’s considered sophisticated and not everyone’s cup of tea. Hence, only a handful of us is able to gather courage and walk inside the art galleries which are often displaying 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 (subjective) 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 what kind of art she prefers keeping a distance with. 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 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 across the vast hall and finding fascinating waste material at every corner was an astounding experience.

Ritu further explains, “Since the event is called ‘Bee,’ we’ve 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 get discarded after the process of block printing is executed on an expensive couture.”15 17


During the stroll through the jungle, I learned about the couple’s love for creating arty trees. “We love doing trees. We’ve done a few in Jaipur. One of them can be spotted right at the SMS school entrance which is made from old books and torn toys. The idea is to inform the kids and their parents about the importance of play. The blossoming tree has only toys at its top to signify the growth of a child that drastically depends on the amount of time he/she spends playing.”

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

Talking about the hive at Clarks Amer, Ritu goes deeper into the conceptualization to help me understand better.

“Bee. Hive. Hexagon shapes. Even the threads that are holding the papers are put in accord with the theme. A theater-artist friend from Paris has helped us do the threadwork as we didn’t want to inject any nail in the walls. With this, we’ve given everything a shape.”10

Before concluding the conversation, I asked Ritu about her interesting ‘scrap’ stories and she revealed that the couple loves traveling to Alang, a place in Gujarat which is considered worlds’s largest graveyard for ships. “We go there frequently to buy the scrap materials in which we see art,” smiles Ritu.

Here’s a list of other talented artists/brands who’re participating in Bee’17. Don’t forget to visit the show!

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

Photo courtesy: Chhaveesh Nokhwal

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