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Lavanya Bahuguna


These Artists Took Us Inside A Dollhouse So We Could Reclaim Our Good Ol’ Playing Days

  • IWB Post
  •  June 28, 2017


After I saw Barney Stinson making a list of “I’m too old for this shit” in ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ I immediately made my own. And in that piece of paper, I mentioned how I would never play with my childhood dolls. (Or, maybe, how I might never get a chance to play with them ever again.)

So when I saw artist Ritu Singh and her husband, Surya Singh, mounting a huge dollhouse at Tapri Ashram inside Marriott, Jaipur, it took me to that forgotten list. They’ve named this artwork ‘Reclaim Play.’img_4

I indulged in a conversation with Ritu discussing what triggered the idea in the couple’s mind and how they executed it. Read my conversation with one of my favorite art installers below:

You’re known to use scrap material in your artworks, and this time, you have taken raw materials from the construction site of the café itself. This is intriguing. 

The installation is a temporary setup created from the discards of Tapri Cafe, the scrap left over from the construction site and something from our personal collection at Wolf.collage_3


We used scaffolding (a temporary structure on the outside of a building, made of wooden planks and metal poles, used by workmen) along with our usual scrap material like old stools, curtains, ladders, frames, etc. For example, in the kitchen area, we’ve fixed mirrors, perfume bottles, and other toiletries. We sliced an old tub to make it appear like a chair, and stitched wrappers of Parle-g biscuits to form the wallpaper.

How long did it take to bring the idea to reality?

Around two weeks.


What was your vision like while conceptualizing the installation?

We kept in mind the space we were offered and accordingly used our elements to make it look like an abandoned doll-house. The idea is to make viewers re-visit their childhood memories while reflecting on their present mindset. We want to provoke people so that they reclaim their play-time, be a child again, and pamper themselves with some childish activities. Because, why not?


And why do you think it is necessary?

All of us, irrespective of our age, work hard and eventually get bored. I wonder why we refrain ourselves from relaxing and doing absolutely nothing? I personally want to encourage people to sit idly and experience the Zero-Zone. Let the imagination flow in and out of your system. A playtime, too, has the capability to take you to this zone.

In the age when academics have become a priority for most of the parents as well as, the school authorities, how do you want to promote the idea among them?


The schools must allow kids to spend a good amount of time playing both indoor and outdoor games. Most importantly, we need to take them back to any kind of game other than the video games. We, at Wolf, are open for collaborations with educational institutes around the country to set up installations.

How have been the reactions?

While the kids are finding the spot very familiar and can be seen roaming in and around it, the adults are looking at it with astonishment. They have questions in their minds and so; one of us is always there to describe the idea.


You’ve made two other artists a part of the project. Tell me about them.

We’ve collaborated with Nicolas Henry and the artists at Shed.

French photographer Nicolas Henry uses scrap to decorate the background against which he captures compelling portraits of his subjects. He is a fantastic visual storyteller and has, so far, clicked pictures of people from all over the world. He was in Jaipur earlier this year and did a similar thing in and around the famous monuments of the city. These pictures can be seen hanging inside this doll-house. Also in the installation is Nicolas’s famous book ‘Playhouses of the Grandparents.’


‘Shed’ is a brand from Surat, Gujarat, that’s bringing up the trend of board games from our childhood. At the ‘Reclaim Play,’ we’ve kept a table for spinning tops, one of the first moving toys of our times, remember? How sad that the technologically-bound games have taken over our concious.

Do you want to share any of your childhood memory?


I remember playing with dolls and decorating their tiny houses while drawing storylines around them. I always-always had a script in mind before engaging in the play.


What is the next project that we can expect from the Wolf-Jaipur team?

Like every year, we are coming up with an art installation for the Jaipur Literature Festival that will be held in the last week of January 2018. It is too early to reveal anything about the concept now.

You can find ‘Reclaim Play’ at Tapri Ashram, Marriott Jaipur, till July 31st. And while you are there, let the wise words of the Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw unfold in your mind – “You don’t stop playing because you get old; you get old because you stop playing.”

Photo Credit: Chaveesh Nokhwal

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