Once, as I drove around the city of New Delhi, I passed several shops which had many trunks on display. I noticed that they were made of aluminium and very plain. I mentioned what I had noted to someone. This person then told me that there had previously actually been a custom to paint the trunks. A nice big strong aluminium trunk would be bought for a girl who was to be married. Family members, mostly women, would then paint the trunk.
I thought it was a nice idea to uphold this traditional form of artwork using my own techniques. I collected a variety of materials and decided to make collages on these aluminium trunks. The items that I gathered were glass paint, rhinestones, sequins, old magazine cuttings, hard paper clippings, small plastic clips and toys, neon plastic sheets, posters, spray cans, glue, and just about anything that took my fancy. The methods I used to make the trunks are the same that I use to make small collage paintings.
Each trunk has a theme. There is a big trunk trunk on the theme of marriage and quilts. Other themes are Chinese art, locks, masks, angels, mediaeval art, Hindu mythology, truck art, abstract patterns, and fashion.
Once I started working on these trunks I could not stop for quite some time. In total I think that I must have made about 30 of these trunks in different sizes. I stopped making them because it was very physically strenuous. I had to constantly bend over the trunks as I worked. My back just could not handle it. My arms hurt because, as I painted, I couldn’t lean my hand on anything. The paint took long to dry and could smear, so I had to keep my hand hovering over the work without touching it.
Many of the trunks have survived the times well and a few were even sold. One trunk is in the collection of fashion designer Ritu Beri.