A scientific partisanship to some and for others the crux of a budding romantic relationship, the moon has always been a subject of interest among many. Often addressed as a chariot for emotions or even as a ritualistic symbol, the celestial body finds expression in diverse contexts. Exploring the significance of the moon in all its forms and glories, textile designer Jayshree Poddar speaks to STIR about her latest exhibition, Many Moons, at the Bangalore International Centre, while shifting the spotlight onto her eponymous illustrious publication.
A seasoned weaver and the design director for textile design firm, Himatsingka Seide Limited, Poddar has been associated with the world of textiles for over three decades. She was introduced to the art of weaving while exploring the area of ceramics for design during childhood. Many Moons is a poetic showcase of Poddar’s love for the orb of night with all of its imperfections and glaring luminosity. The sensorial experience in woven silk celebrates the spiritual expression of the moon while interlacing it with the functionality and materiality of fabrics. We climb into her creative cave…
Ayushi Mathur: Can you walk us through the conceptualisation of Many Moons?
Jayshree Poddar: For the concept, I utilised my knowledge of double cloth, which is the same cloth that can split into two layers or more and within the confines of the loom width; I depicted the three stages of the moon. The single-layer depicted the first full moon, which further splits up into two layers and depicted the changing crescent of the moon. Ultimately, the cloth splits into four layers to show the new full moon. Just as beautiful, the complete cycle of the moon is woven through the full length of the loom and is suspended from the ceiling of the gallery. So, the way it moved across the gallery space, I felt that there was space within the cloth and the cloth moved in space.
Ayushi: What about the moon enticed you to explore it on an artistic level?
Jayshree: Basically, I wanted a subject matter, which is luminous. What interested me is that the moon, as we all know, is shiny, it is silver and has such a regularised predictive cycle. I wondered if that reliability can be ingrained into ordinary life as well. We all face our challenges in life but I believe that there is a certain order in this universe, be it psychological or physiological and that same order can be felt when I am observing the moon and expressing it. It is purely my love for this divine object that enticed me enough to explore it on an artistic level.
Ayushi: The moon is not perfect. It is full of irregularities. In your opinion, how can irregularities be adorning jewels for a subject of beauty?
Jayshree: In all frankness, the irregularity of the moon’s surface didn’t attract me. If you look at the pictures of the moon on the net or in the books, close by with all of its irregularities, it is not attractive anymore. As the subject of my art, I chose the far view of the moon where it looks luminous and a perfect round or a crescent without any irregularities. However, I addressed these irregularities only in the way the exhibition unfolded and not through any material. I wanted the exhibition to be experiential through the materials, the warp, weft and the feeling.
Ayushi: How, in your opinion, can the moon impact, address and emanate emotions?
Jayshree: I just think it’s about calmness and acceptance. I don’t know if the moon’s surface is cool close by, but the far view reflects a sense of serenity and tranquillity. Alongside a sense of celebration because of its predictability and reflective qualities. Even the colour silver, which is often associated with the moon, gives a sense of coolness.
Ayushi: Can you take us through the implementation of your work Many Moons at the gallery?
Jayshree: I was well versed with the gallery space at Bangalore International Centre and just went ahead and wove the jacquard moon. I love woven gauze so I used cheap silver polyester as the moon and a black sponge material to showcase the parts of the moon that are not visible. However, before I could formulate the bigger picture and piece, I created the cycle of the moon on a smaller loom before interlacing it on the bigger loom that was displayed at BIC.
Ayushi: How was the multi-sensory experience conceived and integrated into the show? You previously also had a book titled Many Moons, could you elaborate on the connection between the two?
Jayshree: The main space of the exhibition, which I like to call the Piece de resistance, was designed to be immersive. I worked with Ahmedabad-based architect Harsh Bhavsar to create a multi-sensorial experience. In order to make the exhibition immersive, I included custom-composed music for listening, jasmine flowers for smelling, and fabrics for feeling. In the book I used the title Many Moons as an interpretation to a timekeeper and mind keeper because I am told that in India, somebody’s lifespan can be measured by the number of full moons that you see. To establish the essence of the moon within the book, I focused on interlacing it on the cover with a woven silver moon with a silk warp cover. As for the exhibition at the Bangalore International Centre, we called it Many Moons simply because there were so many moons woven onto the fabrics which further created shadows in crescents and rounds onto the floor of the gallery and the corridor.
Ayushi: Is there a particular exhibit on display or in the book that spoke to you?
Jayshree: The feeling of resonating with a subject keeps changing. For both the exhibition and the book, I resonated with the moon. It is fascinating and I love its spherical shape and the aura it carries, but in my book, there are many different subjects that I love including ‘wabi-sabi’, a Japanese aesthetic term for something irregular but beautiful, it makes me relate to and appreciate things that are deteriorating or degenerating.
Jayshree Poddar’s Many Moons was on view at Bangalore International Centre from June 5 – 10, 2022.