Painting the Goddess
Over the weekend the painting of the Goddess began. Before arriving on Sunday morning, the artists had boiled up some glue made out of tamarind seeds and water. This sticky (and quite pleasant smelling)light brown mixture was then mixed with a little clay and painted over the figures to seal them and to make them white. Powdered natural paints were then mixed with water and applied to the goddess as a base coat, with another coat just being applied this morning (monday).
The pictures below show the stages followed.
[image: Mixing the glue with water and clay]
[image: Painting glue over a thin layer of cotton to seal to seal the form]
Painting glue over a thin layer of cotton to seal to seal the form
[image: A white Durga - now sealed with the glue mixture and ready for painting!]
[image: Mixing the paint]
Mixing the paint
[image: The artist Purnendu Dey mixing the natural powdered pigments with water]
The artist Purnendu Dey mixing the natural powdered pigments with water
[image: A rainbow of colours]
[image: The artist Dibyendu Dey painting the Goddess Durga]
The artist Dibyendu Dey painting the Goddess Durga
[image: Ganesha's mouse, perhaps a symbol of his quick intelligence]
Ganesha's mouse, perhaps a symbol of his keen, quick intelligence
Each of the figures is accompanied by an animal, and are sometimes even seen riding around on them! In our images being created in Oriel 1, Kartikeya is sitting on a peacock, and Durga has one foot on a lion, the other figures have small animals next to them: Sarasvati has her swan, Lakshmi an owl, and Ganesha a little mouse.
There are many different stories behind the symbolism of the mouse, some say that the mouse represents wisdom or the intellect as, owing to its size, it is able to enter places that no one else can and it also teaches us to remain alert. I have also read that the fire god Agni was once terrified of Shiva's rage and turned into a mouse so he could hide underground! Do you know of any other stories behind the mouse or any of the other animals? Please let me know!
How the hands were made....
Below are a few images which show you the process of making hands fit for a goddess!
[image: Rolling the clay to make fingers]
Rolling the clay to make fingers
[image: The clay rolled to form fingers and palms]
The clay rolled to form fingers and palms
[image: Placing the fingers on the Goddess Durga's hands]
Placing the fingers on the Goddess Durga's hands
[image: The image of the Goddess Durga drying before being painted]
The image of the Goddess Durga drying before being painted
[image: One of Ganesha's four hands before being painted]
I have been away from the gallery for two days, and the Gods and Goddesses have been transformed! The artists are very near the end of this stage, and once the clay dries the painting and decorating begins!
All the figures now have hands and feet and are now looking all smooth (with the help of cotton on top of the clay) and more refined. Have a look at the photos below, and don't forget to come and visit the artists before the 4th April!
[image: The artist Dibyendu Dey shaping the Goddess Durga, her lion and her foe, the buffalo demon ]
The artist Dibyendu Dey shaping the Goddess Durga, her lion and her foe, the buffalo demon
[image: A close-up of the head of Kartikeya's peacock]
A close-up of the head of Kartikeya's peacock
[image: The face begins to dry]
The face begins to dry
[image: Ganesha before being painted]
Ganesha before being painted
[image: The Goddess Durga's Lion]
The Goddess Durga's Lion
The journey continues...
[image: Using a heat lamp to dry the clay]
Using a heat lamp to dry the clay
[image: Securing the neck of Sarasvati's swan to the body with string as the clay dries]
Securing the neck of Sarasvati's swan to the body with string as the clay dries
All the figures now have faces! Sarasvati has her swan, and Kartikeya's peacock is also taking shape.
I have now been informed that 'Ganesh' should be spelt with 'Ganesha', so please accept my apologies!
Ganesha has four arms and the head of an elephant, with those big elephant ears enabling him to hear the needs of his people. The multiple arms demonstrate Ganesha's immense power and ability to perform several acts at the same time. This deity brings good luck and clears all obstacles and is therefore worshipped before important events and rituals.
If you look at the picture below you will see that Dibyendu Dey and Purnendu Dey have now covered the straw structure with clay and the image of Ganesha can be clearly seen. He is looking truly impressive!
Dibyendu Dey and Purnendu Dey have been working hard in Oriel 1 and a great deal has been accomplished in the last couple of days. The hay structures of Durga (along with the lion she is sitting on and the buffalo demon), Ganesh, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Kartikeya are pretty much complete and Sarasvati even has the beginnings of her musical instrument! ('m not sure at the moment if it's a sitar or a veena, but will let you know!)
Visitors to the gallery have been enjoying watching the artists at work and Anuradha Roma Choudhury, the interpreter for the project, is on hand to chat to everyone about the work and the iconography behind it. Make sure you come by and have a look!
[image: The artist Dibyendu Dey weaving wire and hay to form a head]
The artist Dibyendu Dey weaving wire and hay to form a head
[image: The Goddess Durga, her lion, and the buffalo demon formed from straw and wire]
The Goddess Durga, her lion, and the buffalo demon formed from straw and wire
[image: ganesh head (detail)]
Here are some more photos of the work so far!
[image: Ganesha's body formed by tying hay to a wire frame]
Ganesha's body formed by tying hay to a wire frame
Making a Goddess
For the next two weeks in Oriel 1 in St Fagans we are thrilled that Purnendu Dey and Dibyendu Dey (two artists from India) will be creating an image of the Hindu Goddess Durga. I’ll be keeping you up to date of the making of a Goddess with photographs and a daily report, but, of course, it’s always better to come and see the work for yourselves. The artists are working all day at the museum, but there will be opportunity for you to talk to them and the interpreter (and get a closer look) between 11.30 and 12.30 and 2.00 and 3.00 every day. For more information please have a look at the museum website.
Purnendu Dey and Dibyendu Dey only started work yesterday, so it’s all been preparatory work so far: the wooden backdrops have been built and paper is being soaked. Have a look at the photos below to see what’s happened so far!
[image: The artists go shopping for supplies]
[image: measuring the wood for the backdrops]
[image: papier mache]