I once saw this “Grip Test” machine on the side of the road in Mussoorie (foothills of the Himalayas). This traditional entertainment item for tourists fascinated me. The Grip Test machine looked like it was about 100 years old. It actually could have been that old. Not only because of the way it looked, but because of the kind things that were written on the machine.
The home-made machine had a handle in the middle which you can see in the painting. This handle had to be gripped and squeezed as hard as possible. An arrow then indicated how strong you were and, consequently, the kind of profession your grip could be matched with.
The list of equivalent grip strength was indicated as:
I have always liked anything to do with street art or Kitsch. I like the innocence of this type of art and craft work. This machine hit my love spot. It was so inventive and fun.
Groups of people tested themselves for Ten Rupees. They screamed and laughed while clustering around the machine as some scratched their heads. My own grip was only 50.
I liked the Grip Test so much that I wanted to take it home. I offered a price for it but the owner refused to sell it. I actually made this artwork because he had declined to sell it to me. I wanted to commemorate the wonderful creativity shown in the Grip Test Machine as art and its tongue in cheek simple fun.
Now 20 years later, the machine is nowhere to be seen. Maybe it has just been thrown on some hillside over there in the mountains!
I painted the machine as floating in the air because I wanted no distraction from the actual image. This piece was mostly painted with airbrush. I painted this street art in its honour because I love it so.
My mother, who is a tapestry weaver, really liked this painting. She made a beautiful tapestry based on it that is just the same size as the original. It is included here.