Gregory Lent is a local Tiruvannamalai artist who was written about in an earlier blog entry. He recently opened a show of his work in Bangalore at Gallery Time and Space. Their website, which shows a few items from the show, is found here. Their photos are better than I was able to take, so you might want to look there. You will also find a bio of Gregory there.
Gregory invited us to the opening, and we planned to go with him to Bangalore for the show. We are still new enough to India that these journeys are adventures in themselves. He arranged for a hotel for us to stay in close to the gallery, in central Bangalore. We thought we would ride in a taxi with him to Bangalore and take a bus back home by ourselves.
Bangalore is northeast of Tiruvannamalai, about 200 km. Here is a Google Map which shows the locations. Tiruvannamalai is in light type in the center right of the photo. Bangalore (also called Bengaluru) is in the upper left. Double click the map to enlarge. The first half of the ride is on a one lane road through the countryside, then the rest on bigger and divided roads into Bangalore.
We were headed into the main part of the city, shown below. Our hotel was on MG Road, near Museum Road. The gallery was a few blocks away on Lavelle Road.
We have been in and through Bangalore two times, and do not know the city at all, except to spend hours driving through it in packed traffic. We hoped that we could learn a bit more about the city, and staying in the central area might help to learn.
We met Gregory at his house at 8 in the morning. He still had to load art onto the truck.
His compound is three buildings, in a village adjacent to Tiruvannamalai. You enter through this gate.
Below you see into the compound and the stairs that front the central building.
To the left is a building with a thatched roof.
To the right is another.
Everywhere you look there are art pieces displayed, on walls, stairways, and scattered throughout the grounds.
Most of the compound is work space. He lives in one room, where there is a small kitchen. The rest is studio, workshop and storage for materials.
A truck was pulled up to the place, and was being loaded.
There were still a few pieces to be carried to the truck and wrapped for the journey. Here they are carrying one of the last ones.
They have to get it onto the truck.
And wrap it for transport.
Finally they get ropes to lash everything down for the journey, expecting 200 km of wind.
Almost ready to go now.
The drive to Bangalore and to the hotel was about five hours. That afternoon Gregory installed all the pieces in the gallery, while we did a bit of exploring around the hotel.
The next morning we met Gregory for breakfast at a nearby local spot, Koshy’s, known to be a meeting place for western and Indian movers and shakers, intellectuals and artists. Then Gregory took us to Avenue Road, a bit to the east of the hotel. This is one of the oldest streets in the city, one too small for rickshaws, and home of one of the major market areas. Carol was looking for art supplies. There are none available in Tiruvannamalai. Gregory had told her of a good store in Chennai, and he said that there was another good store in Bangalore, so that was where we were headed today.
He took us to Bhaskar & Bhaskar, one floor up in the middle of the district. The store consisted of three tiny rooms, with shelves on every wall, filled with hundreds of different paints, brushes, pallet knives, etc. Walking through the district, Carol was able to buy one more saree (to wear that night). We passed by the best power tools stores I have seen in India. Further on there was a computer section. We did not make it through this today.
The feeling we got from being in this central area of the city and the market was much better than on earlier trips to Bangalore. We feel now like there is a section we know well enough to want to go back and explore more.
In the evening, we headed to Gallery Time & space.
Artwork lined all the walls. Many of the pieces were made from mirrors and glass beads, reflecting in the light. Some, like the two on the right below, feature typesetting trays from old newspaper printing presses. These are now items to be thrown away, and Gregory is always on the lookout for interesting materials to use in his art.
Here is one of them. The photo is not the greatest. I would not use my flash, since these would give too much reflection from the glass and mirrors. Without more light though, this photo does not show the active light that seems to glow from within the piece. This light from within the art is an element that is most enjoyable about many of these pieces.
Here is another Arunachala mountain, composed entirely of glass beads.
Here is yet another rendition of Arunachala, made from coconut fibers, the same roping material used in thatched roof building, which make up the body of Arunachala, and foam rubber blocks, carved into the trees in the foreground. These materials give a lively texture to the piece.
People gather and talk. There is great energy in the room. I think Gregory’s work, besides everything else, has a spirit of fun, and this spirit fills the room with its energy.
Gregory lit a lamp for the occasion. Given the wind tonight, it was soon blown out.
One piece that I enjoyed is the one below. The figures were sawn from wood and machine-sanded into human curves.
Below is the previously shown Arunachala again. I noticed that the rising sun seemed to be made from a plastic drink cup lid. This one is different each time the light changes.
People continue to gather and talk. Wine and soft drinks were served to the opening night crowd. We are all having a good time.
Carol, with her back to us, is talking to two women who came. The lady on the left is from some major architectural magazine. She thinks these pieces would work well in that environment.
People keep talking, enjoying the company and the art. These are not the kind of gatherings we know of in Tiruvannamalai. It is kind of nice for a change.
The day after the opening, we went home.
When we departed from the hotel, Sri Lakshmi Comforts, we asked about getting to the bus station from which the buses to Tiruvannamalai depart. We expected that it would take an hour and a Rs 200 rickshaw ride to simply get to the proper bus stand. And then, of course, we worried that we couldn’t read the Tamil and/or Kanada writing to know which was the correct bus. However, the hotel management went and got one of their workers who was from Tamil Nadu. He accompanied us about two miles by rickshaw, and then waited with us on a major street where we would pick up the bus that would go direct to Tamil Nadu. He got us on board and made sure they know where we were going. This bus cost us Rs 90 each, about $2.00 US.
The drive took about five hours. The first two hours are getting out of Bangalore. It takes longer than it will in the future, since good divided and raised roads are being built now for this route. Then another hour on a good divided multi-lane road until we get through Krishnagiri, about 100 KM from Tiruvannamalai, where we turn onto the one lane road to Tiru, and my heart relaxes. This small road is lined by ancient tamarind trees, with twisted trunks and branches that in many places form a green canopy that glows in the afternoon light.
We drive another two an a half hours through this green glowing tunnel, then see Arunachala rising ahead of us. We are almost home now.