Craftspersons/ Artisanal, Interviews, Conversations

Kalamkari: In Conversation with Theertham Balaji

George, Ligi

I was born on August 15, 1967 in a poor handloom family located at Srikalahasti town. Since my childhood, I have been fascinated with line drawings on the slate and making clay toys. Understanding my interest in the art, my father enrolled me in Kalamkari art classes in my 12th year under Late Sri S. Rambhoji Naik, (National Awardee) who was also working as a technical assistant in Government Kalamkari training centre, Srikalahasti. I learnt the art alongside continuing my school education. I trained for nearly 10 years from my kalamkari teacher besides my higher education. During the period of training I got lot of exposure in making different shades of natural colours using plants, leaves and flowers. I work mainly with natural dyes on cotton cloth. Although Kalamkari art is an ancient Indian traditional painting, particularly related to the Hindu mythology, I have also made number of paintings on the other themes such as Buddha, Jesus Christ and everday life in our village. For the first time, in the Kalamkari art field, I have drawn very small size figures (5 cms in height) with a bamboo stick pen (Kalam). For this type of miniature painting (Sampoorna Ramayan), I was awarded the prestigious ‘National Award’ for the year 1992 from the Honorable President of India. I got special notice for my paintings ‘Weaving woman’ and ‘Farmer in the field’ which highlighted the plight of poor...
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