Museum of Goa

Goa’s history as Art and Inspiration

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Museum of Goa

Subodh Kerkar was born just 2 years before the liberation of Goa from Portuguese rule. He spent his childhood walking on the beaches with his artist father, Chandrakant Kerkar. These walks consolidated his relationship with his father and the ocean. He is the Founding Director of the Museum of Goa (MOG) and has exhibited widely in India and abroad, in galleries and in museums.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The familiar image of a Goan householder seemingly sitting on a seat on the balcao of her home greets visitors at the entrance of the Museum of Goa, giving a taste of the artistic ingenuity and fun inside.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

The gaur is the mighty bull so this iron bull is a nod to the origins of the name Goa which refers to the land of cattle herders.

The sculpture surprises unexpectedly as it welcomes visitors when they reach the Museum of Goa at the far end of an industrial estate.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

One finds terracotta sculptures of roosters adorning the roofs of many Goa houses.

This perhaps is influenced by the Portuguese symbol, “Galo de Barceló’s”.

One of the most popular folk songs of Goa “kaibarelo kombdo mhaka main mhagya dilelo” (what a lovely rooster given to me by my mother), is more than 400 years old. The sculpture is an ode to that song.

Window Modeling: an egg and the vice (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Title: An egg and the vice.
A vice is an instrument to hold ‘things’, so that they could be ‘worked on’. The object held by a vice has no choice. For the artist, the egg represents the child and the vice, the social conditioning mechanism.

Window Modeling: Jackfruit (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Subodh Kerkar explores the genetics and ancestry of natural materials after he found a burnt-out interior of a jackfruit tree trunk with its interior remaining intact. His Jackfruit is covered with a thorny surface.

The genetic information off that surface is incorporated in the trunk.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Artwork inspired from Goa

Subodh has created a large body of work based on Goa’s histories, which become a recurring theme. His installations are heavily washed by the ocean, both literally and metaphorically. He creates his ephemeral installations using thousands of mussel shells, pebbles, palm leaves, boats, fishermen and sand.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Titled 'The Old man and the Fish', these are ‘twin’ sculptures, one created with laterite stone and the other with iron nuts welded together. The sculpture celebrates Goa’s love for fish and has references to Ernest Hemingway’s celebrated novel, ‘The old man and the sea’.

The sculpture also explores juxtaposition of materials. Laterite stone is found in abundance in Goa and is used for construction of homes. It is rusty red in
colour due to the high content of iron oxides.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

This work called Triumphant Trio by Viraj Naik stretches across a 7m by 5m canvas.

In 1502, Vasco-da-Gama set out on his second voyage for the Malabar Coast. They came upon a coastal ship, when hailed by the lookouts, did its best to escape.

The Portuguese sank it and the owner of the ship, Thimmaya, was produced before the captain. Usually, the fate of such prisoners was immediate death, but Thimmaya not only managed to avoid execution, but also got
himself appointed as a local agent.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

About his work Mussel Shells Ocean, artist Kerkar says: "I have planted thousands of mussel shells in a pattern, some showing the silvery inside, others with their green backs facing the viewer".

When you go around the installation, the pattern changes like a silk carpet. The work is dynamic, like the ocean itself.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

The artist says his shell works celebrate the ocean. Civilizations originated on the seashore and impacted one another by traveling across the oceans.

The waves which wash the shores of Goa have shaped not just rocks, but our entire lifestyle. If we think of our culture as a sculpture, then the ocean is the sculptor.

The shells recall the iridescent ones used in Goa’s windows.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The artist tells the story of this creative work: “One of my friends from my village Keri noticed an anchor completely covered with oyster shells lying in mud in the Tiracol River. It must have been there for quite a few years. He thought that the muddy anchor could be of interest to me. I retrieved the anchor and spent many days cleaning it carefully. Then I took it to the car wash and had it further cleaned with strong jets of water. The muddy anchor metamorphosed into a stunning sculpture”.

The anchor was truly anchored at the bottom of the ocean inviting the ocean to clad it with oyster shells.

Window Modeling: 150 Natals (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Natal tells of Indo-Portuguese houses, an important part of the Goan cultural ethos. Most of these houses were constructed in the second half of the 19th century.

Most Catholics paint the exterior of their houses annually before Christmas (Natal in Portuguese).

There is a large dilapidated house, belonging to the Gomes family, which is over 150 years old.

This house must have received at least 150 coats of lime. The first 30 years or so it was painted white, followed by about 40 layers of lime mixed with indigo.

The following generations decided to use red oxide. For the last fifty years the house has received coats of yellow ochre.

Subodh Kerkar uses pieces of the wall to create this work to show its layered history.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

No other commodity imported into India has affected the life of Indians as much as chillies have.

Indian cuisine used pepper and other spices until chillies arrived in Goa on a Portuguese caravel coming from South America sometime in the early 16th century. So, if there is ever to be a monument in honour of chillies, it would have to be erected in Goa.

Here, Kerkar, the artist, has used fibreglass, rubber tyres and cotton fabric to create them in his Museum of Goa.

Window Modeling: Oysters on the plate (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Ocean as an inspiration for Kerkar's Work

The ocean is both inside and outside of Kerkar's works, his master and his muse. He has also created large works on the seashore, which are often infused with politics and history. Technology plays a very important role in the creation of his works. In fact, often technology actually inspires his ideas. The Museum of Goa is envisioned less as a repository of objects,and more as a laboratory of ideas where all art forms are in constant dialogue with each other.

Window Modeling: Windows - Souvenirs (2019)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Museum of Goa is envisioned less as a repository of objects, and more as a laboratory of ideas where all art forms are in constant dialogue with each other.

The present souvenir replicas of the windows of Goa, with new technology, sizes, and a strong social goal, were brought back into focus after acquiring a new form and use under his guidance.

Window Modeling: Slave Fork (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

The cowrie shell installation called, 'The Slave Fork' depicts the history of thousands of slaves from various Bantu tribes were brought by the Portuguese to Goa.

Old Goa was an important emporium of slave trade. The square in front of the Sé Cathedral, Tesseiro da Sabaio (Adilshah Square), was the main venue of the slave market.

The journey of these slaves began deep in the interiors of Mozambique. Portuguese slaving agents, Pombeiros, roamed the interior regions of Africa, purchasing slaves from local chieftains.

Forked branches of trees were used to tie two slaves together so they didn’t escape.

Window Modeling: Slave Fork (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Men, women and children were sold for cowry shells, or Zimbo, which was a currency in this region.

Sometimes the slaves were bartered for cotton, rock salt, gun powder, glass beads or just a bottle of brandy.

Window Modeling: Oysters on the plate (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Kerkar the artist bought a large number of ceramic plates over a hundred years old from an antique dealer. These plates would have probably arrived in Goa on Portuguese caravels.

He put them in an iron cage and kept them on the ocean floor for six months, where the ocean covered them with oysters.

Window Modeling: The Ocean Combs (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

Many honey comb forms were created in fibre glass and placed on the ocean bed for 2 years.

The ocean created oyster shells on the artist’s ‘honey’ combs converting them into ‘ocean’ combs.

Window Modeling: Museum of Goa (2019) by Subodh KerkarDastkari Haat Samiti

By collaborating on this fibre glass work with the ocean over a series of experiments, Kerkar made the ocean his partner in art.

Crafts Maps of India - Goa - 2 (1993-2010) by Jimmy DevasiaDastkari Haat Samiti

Credits: Story

Text: Jaya Jailty
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: Kavita Singh, Swarupa Kamli,
Ground Facilitator: Ankit Kumar, Sharda
Documentary Video: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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