When Jaishree Pankaj was all of eight, she watched her grandfather cutting stencils from plantains and paper in the form of Srinathji to decorate the sanctum of Lord Krishna. Referred to as Sanjhi, this ancient art form has evolved over time and is adapted differently by each artist. This week, Pankaj (now 63) will showcase 55 pieces as part of her latest exhibition titled Jharokha, at Artisans’.
Speaking about the exhibition, Pankaj says, “It is titled Jharokha since many of the panels contain facades of Havelis of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Apart from the various panels depicting Lord Srinathji (in different shringars), there are images of the Ambadi (the king seated on an elephant) and the Udaipur Palace peacocks.”
Pankaj had last exhibited in Hyderabad in 2001 and she admits the hiatus was due to a packed schedule: “I am an ardent devotee of Lord Srinathji and I visit Nathdwara, the abode of the Lord, at least four times a year. The high point for me was when the temple authorities asked me to make an 8’x8’ silk Pichwai for the Lord. My time is divided between seva to the lord, my Sanjhi work and my big family with three children and seven grandchildren.”
She admits that paper is a delicate and hence, a challenging medium to work on. “I have created works in different dimensions and each work’s highlight lies in its detailing,” she explains. A 4’x4’ sized panel can even take up to 4-5 months to create while simpler works can take up to a week to craft.
Pankaj is also hopeful about the survival of the art form within her family as one of her grandchildren has shown keen interest in the craft and she hopes he might take it up in the future. Around 20 percent of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the NGO Nanhi Kali, which focuses on the education of the girl child.