Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mural Copy Promise after Whitewash

Telegraph story based on a release issued by the Ministry of Textiles:

Our Special Correspondent
New Delhi, Sept. 15: The textiles ministry today announced that a "rejuvenation project" was in progress to "preserve" exhibits and artworks to the "maximum extent possible", days after whitewashing a mural by iconic Madhubani artist Ganga Devi at the capital's National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum.

The media release also "clarified" that an "excellent collection of works", including Ganga Devi's Cancer Series, was "well conserved" as part of the museum's collection.

It would be given its "due place" in the galleries, once the rejuvenation work is complete, the release said.

The Cancer Series refers to the four works of Ganga Devi, painted on paper, while she was being treated for cancer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in 1989-90. The works depict the detection of her illness, delay in getting treatment and her journey to Delhi.

All these themes are painted in the Madhubani style and are displayed at the NHHM museum.

The Cancer Series does not include Ganga Devi's famed Kohbar Ghar or Bridal Nuptial Chamber murals that the artist, who passed away in 1991, had painted between breaks in chemotherapy sessions. But the entire room was painted over during the "rejuvenation project", on since the last few months.

Textiles minister Santosh Gangwar said a replica of the lost work would be made in the same room.

"We will get people from her place (north Bihar) who paint in the same way. They will paint this room again to restore it. We are seeking advice on how the works we have can be preserved. Walls with murals begin to crack 10 to 20 years after they are completed."

Former NHHM director Jyotindra Jain wondered how an artist's work could be replicated. "It is not a question of any painting. It bore the signature of an eminent artist named Ganga Devi. If you replace it, it cannot be called her work," Jain said.


Ministry of Textile Press Release Reproduced:

Government committed to conserve original concept of Crafts Museum

Work of late artist Smt. Ganga Devi is well conserved in the Museum Collection

The Ministry of Textiles wishes to clarify that the Government of India is fully committed to conserve the original concept of the National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum and to preserve the exhibits and artworks to the maximum extent possible.  It is in this spirit that the Rejuvenation Project is being implemented.  The Government welcomes suggestions in this regard from all quarters.

It is further clarified that an excellent collection of works including ‘Cancer Series’, by the late artist Smt. Ganga Devi, is well conserved in the Museum Collection; it will be given its due place in the Museum Galleries, once the rejuvenation work is completed.

The National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum was set up in the year 1956 and was moved to present premises in year 1979-1980. Keeping in view the need for upkeep and maintenance of the structures, Rejuvenation Project was planned in the year 2010.  Implementation of the Rejuvenation Project is being supervised by an Advisory Committee which has several eminent persons from related areas.

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