Deccan Chronicle

Hail Mary, Chutney style

Deccan Chronicle| Bindu Gopal Rao

Published on: July 18, 2019 | Updated on: July 18, 2019

Mother Mary makes for a challenging motif, Avril admits.

Avril Stormy Unger - Street intervention

Avril Stormy Unger - Street intervention

Growing up in Mangalore, the presence or absence of the Mother Mary picture at home was sometimes an indication of conflict in the household, between her Catholic mother and Protestant father. Avril Stormy Unger, the maverick artist from Bengaluru, is basing her next show, Chutney Mary, mixed-media collage works on paper, on her experiences with Catholicism, laiden with motifs of domestically contentious deity. "I had a Catholic upbringing, spent a lot of time with my great grandmother. We went to church every evening as she used to sing in the choir. Mother Mary was the idol to look up to, also because she is the only female Godly figure as a Catholic. Her pureness and piousness was taught to us ata very tender age. She was always present in our prayers. It was imbibed in my sister and me, to pray to her as a way to get to Jesus. So she played a huge role in our childhood," says Unger.

Chutney Mary, her new art project, brings it altogether, drawing from her own experiences as a child and Roman Catholicism in a coastal Indian context. I found a way to combine stamp collecting, stitching and the other pastimes we had as children, to be part of this work." The term Chutney Mary, will raise in a smile in every Bengalurean of a certain vintage – the college slang that came to describe women from small towns who don’t fit in with the ‘sophistication’ of urban attitudes. "I was called a Chutney Mary when I first moved here," says Avril. To depict this, she uses items like bindhis and glass bangles as symbols.

Mother Mary makes for a challenging motif, Avril admits. "I do see more of her showing up in my work," she says. "These are my roots, my upbringing and my religion and Mother Mary has played a huge role in it. I don’t shy away from sharing my stories since my work is based on personal experiences."

She works with a medium that she thinks does justice to the work and content of her message. "When I worked only with movement, I realised that sound also played a vital role for me. This is when I started working with sound artists to perform live, and intricately interpret their sound using my body. I approached my work, not as a body but more as an instrument to compliment the sound," says UAvril, adding, "Such processes gave me the freedom to look outside of the medium and my body, and also to use my body in ways other than just movement. I have been able to mix various concepts with virtual reality and photography, using my body and combining it with, say, food or using sound as a key element to some of my installation work."

What: ‘Chutney Mary’ - Art Installation
When: The art work will be on display at The Courtyard Art Wall till August 6
Where: The Courtayrd, 105, KH Road (Lalbagh Double Rd Opp. Corporation Bank, Shanti Nagar, Bengaluru

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