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When Ideas Crystallize

Natural crystals fascinate me because of their random and myriad shapes, facets and reflections. As random and abstract as they are, they come together to make  infinite and beautiful formations.  I mulled over the meaning of the term “an idea is a crystallized thought”.  I imagined that many ideas together would look like a beautiful crystal formation. I am a firm believer in the fact that the answer to any of the world’s problems, large or small,  lies in collective thinking, collaborative endeavor, people working hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder. And this installation not just captured that belief of mine but turned out to be a huge collaboration between me and my big team of artists and artisans.

I designed this piece as not just something people could look at from a distance but as an artwork that people could walk into. With that in mind, and with designer Paula, Lukman and his team of welders and Ammu and her team of paper artisans by my side, I set off to make a giant paper “crystal cave” as its head that curved up to a kind of tail that gave it a whale like silhouette. It was not just large, measuring 25 by 10 feet and a height of 9 feet; it was also a large challenge architecturally/structurally. The venue had restrictions and we could not take the support of the ceiling or the floor so it had to be self-supporting. So we had to make sure it touched the floor at critical points and curved on the Z axis to distribute its weight and Paula was given the tough task of 4 days to make the drawings for Lukman, our skilled fabricator.  We had an impossible deadline as well so we decided to simplify Lukman’s task and try and restrict it to about 6-8 different shapes. Paula’s was a daunting task because its abstract shape had to fit in a pre determined stall of 8 meters by 3 meters without toppling or collapsing.

Impossible was also Lukman’s task of making it strong enough to survive the 5 day journey by truck to Delhi and back but still look “light“ and whimsical like I wanted it.  Many harrowing days later, by the time the components reached my studio for Ammu’s team for the paper fixing we were 3 days behind schedule. It was an almost inhuman deadline but everyone rose to the challenge.  Finally when we fit the pieces together to check if it would stand, we held our collective breath. It stood! I pushed it a little more than gently just to make sure. It resisted! Hurrah, we were ready to roll! Shows you can’t keep great “ideas” down, or in this case you can’t push great ideas over.  

- Written by Jenny Pinto, Design Director, The Purple Turtles

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