February 8, 2016

A look inside: In The Fold – Heritage Structures of India

by Anusha Narayanan

Images copyright of Kyoorius & 9twentycreative.

A courier arrived from Goa, as a pleasant surprise at our door early new year’s day. A book, In The Fold, in a narrow rectangular shape, sits in it; with a yellow, smart and modest, cover. It wasn’t perfect, but it was like none other. And instantly, it won you over to want to keep it –  for flipping through the greatness of Indian Heritage Structures, or just for the indulgence of opening the madness of the thin paper cuts and folds that pop-out while flipping through the pages of the book.

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We take the book out for a walk in the park, place it on a bench where the sunlight falls on it sweetly and then one by one flip through the pages.  Origamic Architecture is a Japanese craft, and it isn’t commonly seen in India.

“Origamic Architecture uses cuts and folds to reproduce three-dimensional forms of architecture and geometric patterns in paper. The first in the series of “In The Fold”, Heritage Structures of India explores the intricate beauty of the structures and their three-dimensional form in paper.” reads the back of the book, authored by Shivaram Ananthanarayan, an origamist based in Goa.

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The Foreword, written by Dean D’Cruz, the well-known Goan architect, introduces Shivaram much like a proud relative would, saying, “While training in our office, I could see the painstaking efforts made in refining the cuts and fold in his experiments of different structures, to bring about the depth and the clarity. Each pop-up has gone through hours, sometimes days of refinement to bring to you the joy of  a piece of paper being brought to life. “

Shivaram’ s tryst with and love for Origami goes back to his childhood in the Andaman’s, where he first started experimenting with it at the age of 5. Having won many honours for this, it was only natural to have expected something special.

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Subsequently, Shivaram introduces us to the practice of Origamic Architecture and its roots in Japan, in Japanese origami (paper folding) and Japanese kirigami (paper cutting), and how Professor Mashahiro, in the early 80s, began creating these three-dimensional architectural forms in paper as a way to teach architecture, design, appreciation, art, craft and maths to the younger students – and this then spread all over the world.

Shivaram, after narrating the tedium of making this book ends with the simplicity of, “I have meticulously creased and folded each structure in this book to its final form by hand.”

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We begin flipping the origamic pages one by one, starting with the Sansad Bhavan at New Delhi and the Qutb Minar at Mehrauli, and slowly the cutting gets crazier. The book covers eight more structures, namely: Harmandir Sahib (commonly called the Golden Temple) Amritsar, Umaid Bhawan in Jodhpur and then move westwards to Lukshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.

From the west we go into the south and south-west of India, into Panjim, and unfold the facade of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church and then head to the Char Minar, at the city of Nizams, Hyderabad.

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We finish this short but fun tour of India, at Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, Bihar on the east, and our last stop is on the ever-romantic engineering marvel of the Howrah Bridge of Kolkata. “This book, the first in a series, aims to explore the possibilities and the beauty of both the real structures and its three-dimensional transformation with paper,” ends Shivaram on his introductory Author’s Note, hinting at the many spectacles to come from his creative enterprise “Fold Nation”.

Shivaram Ananthanarayan, born in Port Blair, in the Andaman & Nicobar islands, was the first child to be invited by the Nehru Centre, Mumbai for a full-fledged, one of its kind solo exhibit in November 1999. At the age of 11, he was also awarded the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in the field of Origami, by the Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India.  

You can write to him on shiv@foldnation.com

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