By her own admission, artist Anjali Venkat would rather call herself a kabadiwali. Yet, from vodka bottle dishes to mixed media art and reclaimed wood, her designs spell elegance and class
You might be familiar with the Kabadiwali who turns scrap bottles and glass into works of art. Chennai-based Anjali Venkat, independent artist and designer has taken this old-time trade and given it a sheen and dazzle of its own. She collects bottles, scrap glass and wood to up-cycle them into luxury utility items.
Bottles, melted flat and designed to form a planter
This self-proclaimed kabadiwali says, "I get calls from people saying we had a party last night and we are coming to drop off some bottles. I have emerged as the locality's Kabadiwali, literally. The name I thought, added humour. We take ourselves too seriously sometimes", adds Venkat who works out of a small studio setup.
Though her forte is essentially glass art, she also works with mixed media -- wood, paper and glass. Vodka bottle dishes, bottle planters, assembled bottle diyas, wood collage tables, serving trays, wooden planter boxes and tissue box covers will be part of a range of 45 different items. Anjali, 46, began her experiments with glass on a small scale.
She pursued short-term workshops in glass art at New York's Corning Museum of Glass, Glass Blowing in Norway and learnt lampshade techniques in Perth, Australia. She then began melting glass in a kiln to make small objects that were retailed at a few galleries in Chennai in 1996 after which she left the city.
Returning in 2005, she started her own little studio in a small housing society apartment, which doubled up as a retail space. Six years since then, she ships products to many cities and conducts an annual exhibition of her products in Chennai and follows it up with workshops for people who want to pick up the craft.
After years of working with glass and hand-making every piece that left her studio she decided to make a foray into mixed media. "I wanted to work with reclaimed wood and met Shetal Parekk, a fine artist at one of the workshops I was conducting.
We decided to work together on the wood, paper and glass series", she tells us. "Glass has a mind of its own. It has its own limitations and there is only so much one can experiment with glass. Wood on the other hand gives structure, while glass gives the object beauty. It works as a great combination", she adds.
Retailing through outlets is something she stands against, limiting her works to studio art. She plans to have an exhibition of jewellery in glass sometime soon. "I have also always wanted to work with metal and will be doing that soon. I am waiting for somebody who can teach me metal art", she shares, with an air of expectancy.