Art & Culture

Creating craft from everyday junk

Seventy nine year old Arjumand Fatehally creates beautiful and aesthetic artefacts from everything that the rest of us regard as ‘junk’.

Seventy nine year old Arjumand Fatehally owes her 30 years of creative insights to a street urchin. In the last so many years, Fatehally has created beautiful and aesthetic artefacts from everything that the rest of us regard as ‘junk’.

About thirty years ago, while Fatehally was waiting at a bus stop in Madurai, a street urchin who was attempting to stick the top of a discarded cigarette box with her saliva caught her attention. Realising that the child was making a toy out of the cigarette box, Fatehally sat down with her, and helped the child make her little ‘toy’. Though she missed her bus, Fatehally credits the little girl even now. “She is my inspiration. I’ve always been an arts and crafts person, but it all started out with that little child. I wish I could see her again, and tell her about what she has inspired” said the 79 year old artist.  
With most of the ‘artsy’ population constantly criticizing about how crafts is a dying trade, Fatehally has a room full of beautiful crafts that she has made in the last 30 years. A teacher by profession, the 79-year-old artist has previously held eight solo exhibitions to her credit including exhibitions in Coles Park, Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, the India Institute of World Culture, Presidency School and at Bal Bhavan in Bangalore. Fatehally dreams of igniting in every child – the desire to create their own play materials from 'waste'.

Recently, Fatehally held a day-long exhibition of her work held at the Neeladri Mahal Apts, Nandidurg Road where she currently resides. She says the wonder and excitement in their eyes is what inspires her to do more. Catching up with her in her apartment, Fatehally showed MyBangalore a small part of her vast collection of artefacts. The exhibits included several nursery rhymes and fairy tale characters created out of everyday waste. She has used everything from pencil shavings, to toothpaste caps, aluminium foil, empty bottles, shells, and in one instance she even used her own hair. 

A tiny doll figurine of the classic character Rapunzel, and her lover was what came out of it. “Obviously it was a long time ago; I had nice black hair back then” said Fatehally. Some of the most exquisite pieces included matchboxes that were transformed into elegant colourful boxes with waste cloth, tiny ribbons and glitter. Little plates made for a tea party from aerated bottlecaps, camels made from toothpaste caps, penguins at the North Pole, woollen dolls, pine cone owls, and egg shell birds were just a few among the lovely artefacts that she makes.  

Among the room full of artworks, big and small, were about 70 to 80 egg-shell birds using eye droppers for beaks, a rooster made of broken bangles, coconut shell owls and a mini Japanese beach of shells. A lot of her works draw inspiration from nursery rhymes and fairy. Apart from them, she’s even designed some teaching aids out of tree leaves, and straws.   
Fatehally used to teach Home Economics as a teacher. Fatehally now has calendars with pictures from her creations. She believes that parents and educators need to understand the value of all materials and that nothing is really 'waste'. Only then can they encourage children to create their own toys and play materials through 'waste'.
Masterful at several mediums of craft, she has her way with oil paintings, cut foil art, embossing, and knitting works as well. Most of her inspiration came from interacting and teaching children of various age groups all the way from junior school to high school.
If you are interested in having an exhibition of her work or buying calendars, you could contact her or her daughter Nikhat Aslam at 080 23430383 or
Tags: paintings, Arjumand Fatehally, household junk, daily garbage, handifrafts, arts and crafts, recycle


SHWETA Mar 10th, 2010 09:54 PM

its part of art n madam is realy a best architecture really very nice

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