Breathing life into broken things

- March 11, 2024
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

Young visual artist Hazel Kamath uses discarded items for her artwork, which has caught the eye of many patrons of art

UNIQUE: Hazel’s artwork showcases work done on newspapers and pages of books

Hazel Kamath, a young visual artist from Delhi, has attracted art patrons for her work that gives life to broken, discarded and forgotten things. 

Patriot spoke to Hazel during her nine-day exhibition that began on March 2 and will conclude on March 10 at Urban Fringe — the underground studio at Okhla, New Delhi. She has called it ‘de volta à vida (Back to life), a solo show by Hazel’. It is curated by Aakshat Sinha.

“My work showcases broken earrings, jute, pots, keychains, packaging cartons, old books, newspapers, postcards and others. I like to incorporate life in them and those things can find a new heartbeat that echoes their story through my work,” she says.

UPBRINGING: Hazel Kamath was brought up in Mumbai and is heavily influenced by her Goan grandmother

“The things I have chosen are either forgotten or thrown into bins when they are broken. But I decided to use them with the thinking that the broken things are not dead or useless. If they are given a life, they can prove beautiful and helpful in one way or the other,” she says before adding, “Every broken thing deserves a second chance to live and to be rejuvenated.” 

Hazel says that she explores the intersection of various genres, art forms, and media. 

“Most of my work uses ink, graphite, water colours, acrylics, and coffee. With deep-rooted love for interacting with people and society, I draw creative inspiration from things and people around me,” she adds. 

“My work comprises travel and observational sketches, figure drawing, and nature works — either pen drawing or art with dried leaves and flowers. I enjoy breathing life into broken creations,” says Hazel further.

CONSERVING: She has also used discarded flowers in her work

In some of her artworks at Urban Fringe studio, Hazel has used old newspapers dating back to 1980s which were lying unused at her home. 

“I made the sketches on them with different themes. Like, I made a sketch about a woman with resilient gazes, Jama Masjid in Delhi, a resting man — Lullaby, Astral shards and Madari (street performer). I also used a newspaper cutting from February, 1919 on which I have sketched my first camera gifted by my father, though that old camera is not being manufactured now. The concept was to give a message of revival with the help of old newspapers,” she adds further.

Interestingly, Hazel says that she has also made use of old pages of her cousin’s law books. “I have made sketches and painting on them. Those books were lying idle at home so I thought to put them to use.”

The most interesting part about her work is making paintings with the use of coffee. 

“Some time back, I was having coffee at home and while sipping, it fell on the floor. That floor turned into a different colour and I decided to use coffee in my work,” she says.

OUT OF BOX: Her painting shows the use of coffee along with cardboard

One can find the use of old cardboard painted with coffee and charcoal, rusted flowers and other items giving a message of hope and liveliness.    

Hazel, who spent her childhood in Mumbai, says that she has been interested in this field since the beginning. 

“I have been creating funny doodles on the back-pages of notebooks, writing poems, and making pencil sketches in my biology journals since childhood. Over the years, I experimented with a variety of media to express my thoughts and observations of the world around me.”

Sharing the story about the title of her exhibition, she says that she was inspired by her grandmother’s love for the Portuguese language and therefore, decided to keep the name. 

“She was originally from Goa and speaks this language. Her love for the language inspired me to keep its name,” says Hazel, who has been awarded with a certificate by Zentangle Inc., which is based in Rhode Islands, US, for the Zentangle style of art in 2018.

Hazel has participated in various exhibitions in the past, including The Stainless Gallery in 2018, Hotel Asoka in 2019 and Bombay Art Society in 2021. She also held a solo exhibition in Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi in February this year.