Subhashini’s art works come to life with withered flowers, stalks, seeds

Subhashini Chandramani with her journal

Chennai: When we see withered flowers, little do we pause by and admire their beauty; but rather choose to walk over them and get on with our lives.

But Subhashini Chandramani, an artist based in Bengaluru, pays attention to what we normally do not. She makes the best use of such flowers and leaves. How, one may ask. Painting or drawing nature is one, but creating one with them is another form of art is what she enjoys doing.

Like every other artist, Subhashini (who was once a Chennaiite) indulged in different forms of art – painting, sketching, fabric painting and embroidery – until she tried out garden art with materials that we often come across.

“I was not doing anything different about five years ago. We see the same set of things every day, we know every encounter is different, but do not bother thinking about the unique aspect. But what if those mundane items can come together and give way to a new form of art? That certainly is different here,” she said, and added, “Nobody looks at a leaf and say it looks like a bird or a woman’s hand.”

When Subhashini was trying to draw a woman’s face but was not satisfied with the attempts and always had the thought that it has to be different. Having grown up amidst trees, plants and flowers, she picked up the bract of a bougainvillea flower and placed it on the face; it gave a 3D effect.

“After the experiment, I thought I should juxtapose natural elements to the sketches I do. It became a new form of art for me to express my thoughts in a natural way,” adds Subhashini, who has been into garden art since her first accidental encounter.

When asked about how she envisages a piece of art, she immediately says, “It is an eternal question; you never know which one comes the first – the materials I need or the idea.”

“To me, nothing in pre-planned. Somewhere, the idea would be there or I’d derive inspiration from and I’d implement it. Sometimes, I look at a seed pod and think of a creature that can resemble it. Other times, I would want to create an a bird or scene and I come across elements that can make the art, so I pick them up.”

However, to ideate an art and create, an artist takes time which cannot be quantified. But here, it is vice-versa.

“The most interesting part of garden art is that I should create it within three to five hours; if not, the leaf or flower begins to lose its shape and shrinks. I work hard like in other forms of art. I have to work meticulously when the sun is up,” states Subhashini, who is also a poet.

Although she cannot preserve her art, Subhashini takes a good photograph and prints them when required.

With her creations, she has published The Garden Art Journal in 2018 to keep the user inspired. “I did not want mine to be ‘the’ journal but something that people can enjoy doing. Writing a journal is not easy. Some would take pains to write just for two days, hence, I wanted it to be inspiring so that people can use it at any point of week or month, pick a random page to write or doodle. It is for people who want to be random with their own thoughts and maintain a random journal.”

When asked about her favourite art from her collections, she says, “Everything is my favourite and I cannot choose one among them; it is unfair to pick one.’

While Subhashini has already authored a book, she plans to publish a few more with her garden art pieces.