Leaving the chasms of Mumbai behind in some failed rummaging, I arrived into the murmuring town of Fort Kochi looking for some answers to my search. As I arrived on the coast in our small ferries, I realised how we were not the only ones meandering into this quaint little town. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale was underway and the decorations had spilled well onto the streets.
The Chinese fishing nets were getting an early cast into the coast waters while the sleepy town was still waking up to its inhabitants in the sultry February heat. I walked by this bustling coast, observing the routine of the crashing waves, remembering to breathe along the way. Lately I have been chasing a certain silence in my life, a reflection of the breeze that would make my heart remind of beauty again. I can remember feeling this way on days when I heard myself through some resonance outside me, a spectacle of art. And as my words rolled on my tongue, the waves were listening, getting steadier under the glistening sun.
The day started rolling and soon I found myself amidst a host of art. Art finds our happiness, unknowingly and unexpectedly. The halls would scream and sing, the artefacts would move with me as I’d waltz along. My heart must be beating too loud, for I bumped into other women who were similarly drunk on the experience of the Biennale. One thing led to another and soon we were treading these beautiful stories of discovery and self-love.
What followed was a few beautiful days with these mesmerising artworks and the innocent anecdotes that stayed with me from these five women. I still don’t know if I found the answers to my questions but I did find a way to trust that they aren’t somewhere far-away, but just somewhere inside of me.
“My first memory of art is when I was 13 years old, I was living in Bahrain, and I went to this palace. It was like a kingdom, which is now converted to a museum. It’s a museum of the Bahrain King’s father, Late Amir. And the whole palace was adorned with things that belonged to him, from his childhood till the day he died. What caught my eyes were the interiors of that place – the Arabic architecture, Turkish tiles, Arabic Lanterns – Oh it was so beautiful! I remember that. That was the first time I could call art.”
“My first memory of art is when I’d go to monasteries and look at all these wonderfully done paintings on the walls, the murals, and the thankas, and it allowed for space for people to step out of the daily chaos in their lives and just get lost in these meditative works. And since there are no big galleries or museums for people to experience works of art, monasteries become a very important space for people to find that peace and solace and happiness, that space where they can actually find meaning in art.”
"I think it's tough to place the first memory of art I have, although, getting my hands on water colors gave me a realization that colors will go on to anything I put them on - a piece of paper and the surface beneath, the walls, or my skin; it was the realization that art is infinite, that's what stayed!"
“My earliest memory of art is this drawing which I had made in Kindergarten, and it was a circus themed drawing. I just loved it. That was my favourite drawing that I ever made, because there were so many different characters, and they were all so goofy and funny, and they looked like they didn’t care about the world in the moment. They were just having a lot of fun. And I have taken that on life. Be who you are, don’t care about what others think, and just have a ball of a time, always.”
“My first memory of art, I guess, is when I found an Amy Winehouse CD on the floor at the end of my driveway, which is in the middle of nowhere, so it’s a fairly random place to find a CD. And I took it home and I listened to this album that I had never heard of before, and I was totally amazed by how she used her voice and her melodies, and it started this fire in me, and encouraged my already growing desire to sing. Looking back is a moment of big inspiration to me as I continued to create my own art and my music.