“Art is cathartic, therapeutic and has the innate power to heal. It is a form of meditation and makes one look inward”, believes Mugdha Sinha, an astute civil servant by profession and a self-taught artist by passion. A sudden and irresistible urge to paint one afternoon in 2012, led her to make do with a discarded vodka bottle as her canvas. Inspired by Van Gogh’s sunflowers, she painted her own amateurish version which marked the beginnings of her decade-long tryst with bottle art. During the lockdown, she unfailingly painted a glass bottle each day and on 8 April her first solo exhibition showcasing over 200 bottles was inaugurated at Jawahar Kala Kendra.
From showcasing Rajasthani miniature paintings of palaces and cityscapes, tribal and Gond Art to Van Gogh’s starry night, the bottle serves as both the canvas as well as the message to promote the concept of circular economy and sustainable environment. “My art is a metaphor for my own life. It gives the message that even the worst of discarded things can be upcycled and turned into something beautiful with consistency, perseverance and dedicated passion”, says Sinha.
The two-in-one art exhibition also features a display of freehand meditative mandalas made by the artist. “Back in 2016, my mother was quite unwell and we needed to visit hospitals on a daily basis for her treatment. It was also the time when I was in the midst of a transfer from the Government of India to the Government of Rajasthan. In this hectic period marked by emotional turmoil, I began painting meditative mandalas and it helped me to expunge the experience of the hospital. In other words, art became my Sanctum Santorum of Sanity”, shares Sinha while talking about how her journey with painting meditative mandalas began.
In addition to being a voracious reader, Sinha had a penchant for colours, paints and palettes right since her childhood. “Art is in my heart and my heart is in art”, says the bureaucrat who considers art to be her ‘Ikigai’. To quench her unending thirst for painting bottle after bottle, Sinha engineered a resourceful method for sourcing her canvas – she began exchanging the raddi (old newspapers) of her house with glass bottles instead of money. Over the years, she has built up a substantial collection of over 200 painted bottles which has also been featured in several prestigious international and national art competitions. Besides painting glass bottles and mandalas, Sinha also loves to upcycle and beautify tin boxes as well as cloth bags. She also indulges in stain glass painting and embroidery art has recently caught her fancy as well.
A great fan of making to-do lists, Sinha believes that the best way to make time to do the things you love is to set a routine and form a habit. “Planning things well in advance and sticking to a systematic routine even on weekends is how I find time to pursue my various interests like painting, writing and reading. I enjoy mundane tasks like grocery shopping also because I look at them as art. With ethics, aesthetics, creativity and consciousness, everything becomes art. Be it cooking, photography, gardening, raising children or even living your life, it is all a form of art .”
Inspired by author Todd Henry’s message “Unleash your best work every day” in the book Die Empty, Sinha finally decided to make the transition from painting just for self-satisfaction to sharing her art and creativity with a like-minded audience. Throwing light on what moved her to take the plunge, Mugdha Sinha says: “In this book that I recently read, the author says that the costliest place on the Earth is a graveyard. People die with so many of their dreams remaining unfulfilled and their dreams die with them. After reading this book I decided that I do not want to die empty. It urged me to showcase the bottles that I have been painting for almost a decade now and the mandalas that I have been making for over 5 years now. This eventually paved the way for my Two-in-One Art Exhibition.”
The exhibition is on at the Sukriti Gallery of Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) till 14 April and can be visited between 11 am to 6 pm.