A new exhibition at CSMVS explores miniaturisation across art, literature and science
In a display case, a tiny glass fly is seated besides another that is over hundred times its size and made from ivory in Japan. We are inside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya’s (CSMVS) Special Exhibition Gallery, and curator Joyoti Roy points towards it and calls the exhibit an antithesis. "In fantastical literature, say, in Gulliver’s Travels or Thumbelina, where there are huge insects, you’ll notice that they become too scary to look at. It looks beautiful when shrunk," she says. The exhibit, coupled with Roy’s explanation, not only becomes the crux of CSMVS’ latest exhibition Small Matters: An exploration of miniaturisation, but it also validates their proposition of being idea-centric.
A Quran with a box, used as a taweez
Having worked on this project for three months, Roy, along with co-curators and designers Prateek Aroskar and Siddharth Waingaonkar, delve into miniature objects and not merely paintings. One is introduced to the museum’s collection of miniatures as well as those lent by college professor, archaeologist Anita Rane Kothare, with displays arranged by object theatre artists Sananda Mukhopadhyay and Choiti Ghosh of Tram Arts Trust. The Special Exhibition Gallery has been generously supported by the Hemendra Kothari Foundation in honour of Dr Devangana Desai and Dr Kunjalata Shah. It will become the curator's gallery for CSMVS.
One of the most adorably fascinating displays is a simulation of the European dollhouses fitted with Indian and European objects. "The dollhouses originated in Germany [17th century]. They were not objects to play with. They were used to train young girls to run a household. Dollhouses were a premium commodity. In fact, some would be as expensive as a medium-sized house itself," Roy explains.
An elephant made of ivory
Aroskar also visualised and created a diorama of a landscape with a rail-road where three miniature model trains operate electrically. The set also features a signal-system — a green light indicates the train to start moving on the track. At the end of the day, Small Matters appeals to everyone. As Roy concludes, "Adults will be reminded of their childhood or will be forced to look at the world differently. And children will always be fascinated."
Till October 31, 10.15 am to 6 pm.
At CSMVS, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort.
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