The Telegraph
| Sunday, September 8, 2013 |


Talk of the town

Published on 7 September 2013

Art from Odisha

  • A Benefit Exhibition for Utsha is the upshot of a one month art residency, attended by 12 artists, in Barbil

Hushed conversations, tinkling glasses and the crme de la crme of the art world ruled at Gallery Nature Morte at The Oberoi Gurgaon last week. For, the gallery was playing host to an exhibition titled Barbil: A Benefit Exhibition for Utsha, a collection of ethereal watercolours, thought-provoking oils and works in mixed media.

The show was put together by Utsha, a Bhubaneswar-based charitable trust, which aims to nurture the culture of Odisha. The run-up to the exhibition saw 12 upcoming artists camp in Barbil, a tribal area in north Odisha, where they interacted with local artists for a month to create work that went public at the show. The artists who participated in the show included Aishwaryan K., Arbind Kumar Singh, P. Bujinga Rao, Haraprasad Tripathy, Josh P.S., Nityananda Ojha, Satyabhama Majhi, Shweta P. Bhattad, Sujit Mallik and Ramakant Samantray.

Jagannath Panda, chairman, Utsha said: "The residency at Barbil aimed to give the artists exposure and also helped them create different types of works."

Some of the works that grabbed attention included Ramakant Samantray's I Want To Say Everything But Could Not... , which featured two collages -- priced at Rs 90,000 each -- placed side-by-side. Each depicted the myriad problems that have beset the country -- pollution and corruption.

Another piece that was the subject of much scrutiny was Bone of Contention, a work in mixed media by P. Bujinga Rao. Said Rao: "I have depicted the scarcity of water by means of this earthenware pot." So, dolls, which represent people, especially women, were placed inside the pot which had a well made in terracotta. "People can be seen crowding around this well which has almost run dry," he explained.

On the other hand, Nityanand Ojha's untitled work depicted the conflicts past and present in Odisha. His installation was made up of 10 different fiberglass elements like tribal weapons, a gun, antlers and swords. Ojha said: "On the one hand, the gun represents how the war is being waged in tribal areas by Naxals today, while the tribal arms depict how it was being fought in the past." The entire work was priced at Rs 3 lakh though each element could be bought individually.

Among the guests were corporates, gallerists, artists and the hotel's in-house guests. Spotted at the do was Kapil Chopra, president The Oberoi Group, Nitesh Gandhi, general manager, Trident Gurgaon, David Mathews, general manager, The Oberoi Gurgaon, Peter Nagy, curator and founder of Nature Morte and artists Jiten Tukral and Sumen Tagra, gallerist Sunaina Anand and Ina Puri, gallerist and art critic.

Kids Stuff!

  • Agnimitra Paul, her son, Vignesh and chef Sanjay Lama (right) have a blast with the participants, at the cookout

We all know that kids in the kitchen are no longer taboo. And we have shows like Junior MasterChef to prove it! So, when 14 children -- aged between 10 to 15 years -- dropped by at Square 405, the recently opened multi-cuisine restaurant in Mani Square Mall, for a kid's cookout event, no one was surprised.

It was an interactive afternoon with Sanjay Lama, the restaurant's executive sous chef, and designer Agnimitra Paul breaking the ice by asking the kids about their love for cooking and their favourite dishes. It turned out that while some of them had ventured into the kitchen to help their mothers on various occasions, others were rank novices. But all of them were excited about the culinary challenge that lay ahead for them that afternoon.

Next, chef Lama and designer Agnimitra Paul joined forces to rustle up mouthwatering spaghetti in white sauce for the young brigade. Paul, who believes that cooking with one's kids is the perfect way to bond with them, brought along her son, Vighnesh, for the event.

"It was very interesting to see that boys formed 95 per cent of the group, which shows that we're moving away from the girls-are-meant-to-cook stereotype. And I suspect that they're all huge Junior MasterChef fans, since that's what inspires my son as well," said Paul.

The afternoon's most exciting event was a 15-minute sandwich-making competition in which the children were asked to pair up. They were supplied basic sandwich-making ingredients -- bread, butter, cheese, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and a host of fresh veggies with which to prepare a tasty as well as visually appealing sandwich. The restaurant was abuzz with excitement as the little ones made sandwiches, spied on their neighbours' creations (talk about competition), and garnished their offerings with everything from cheese to smileys made of ketchup.

"The kids displayed their own version of the sandwiches, some of which were quite un-recognisable," says chef Lama with a smile. "But what set the winners apart was their creativity in making a club sandwich rather than a regular sandwich, which no one else had thought of." The pair walked away with gift hampers loaded with cookies, cakes and chocolates.

Tradition meets trends

  • The Shrujan Hand Embroidery Exhibition showcased everything from saris and tunics to ipad cases boasting a variety of authentic Kutch embroidery

A slice of Gujarat lodged itself in a quiet Calcutta lane this week (till September 7), giving the city folk a glimpse of the exquisite embroidery created in 110 villages of Kutch. Shrujan, a non-governmental organisation that works with about 3,500 craftswomen in these remote villages, had organised the Shrujan Hand Embroidery Exhibition that showcased products ranging from saris and tunics to home furnishing and even iPad cases. The venue was Artisana, the retail outlet of the Crafts Council of West Bengal, at 13 Chowringhee Terrace, off Gokhale Road.

"A number of designers had jumped on to the handicrafts bandwagon, but in a bid to give their products a contemporary twist, they lost out on the tradition underlying these handicrafts. So, we decided to focus on authentic Kutch embroidery and to showcase the collections in Calcutta," said Shelly Gera, Shrujan's brand manager, adding that they already have a strong client-base in Calcutta.

At the entrance to the venue visitors were greeted by a display of the 16 varieties of hand-embroidery practised by different communities in the Kutch region. Each piece of embroidery is used on specific garments. For instance, the super-fine and intricate ahir, aari and neran are used mostly on saris with each sari taking anywhere from nine months to three years to complete. On the other hand, the bolder motifs of the sodha-pakko embroidery are ideal for home furnishing and bags.

Then, there's mukko work with zari that's used on traditional lehenga cholis usually worn by Gujarati brides. The saris on display were designed in cotton, crepe and Kanjeevaram silks in earthy and vibrant colours that are so distinctive of Kutch embroidery. Prices ranged between Rs 6,000 and Rs 80,000.

Trends met tradition in iPad cases and mobile pouches with delicate hand embroidery. There were cushion covers, wall hangings (Rs 800 to Rs 4,000) and silk bed covers (Rs 45,000).

Flavours of Korea

  • Chefs Ik Sun Son (right) and Seunghyun Bae

Korean cuisine has been a rage in culinary circles of Delhi for some time now. There's Gung The Palace, Restaurant De Seoul and Kimchee that serve all-Korean meals -- platters of glass noodles, grilled meats, pancakes and barley rice. Now there's another addition to the vibrant east Asian food scene by way of a new festival at Caf, Hyatt Regency Delhi's all-day dining restaurant. On till September 11, the flavours of Korea are being served up by guest chefs Ik Sun Son and Seunghyun Bae who have flown down from Hyatt Regency Incheon, South Korea.

Armed with a huge kitty of authentic ingredients like short-grain rice, barley, sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste), soy sauce, pepper flakes and gochujang (fermented red chilli paste), the chefs have set out an elaborate buffet that's loaded with flavours. On offer is a sweet glass noodle dish made from sweet potato starch, which surprises with its chewy texture and refreshing taste. "Korean food is much more than kimchi though that is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner too," says Ik Sun Son.

  • Bibimbap

Along with the staples, the festival is also laying out a spread, which features signature dishes like bulgogi (thinly-sliced beef/lamb marinated in pear juice, soy sauce and garlic), bibimbap (rice mixed in ceramic bowls with sliced mushrooms, meat, gochujang and fried egg) accompanied with steaming bowls of seaweed soup. The Korean lunch and dinner buffet is priced at Rs 1,750 per person while the Sunday Brunch starts from Rs 2,100 per person, excluding taxes.