So far bet­ter knownwn for her af­flu­ence and be­ingng an ir­re­sistible fash­ion­ista, Michelleelle Poon­awalla, now shows us herr other side, that of an im­mensely tal­ented artist with a phi­lan­throp­icpic heart

Society - - CONTENTS - | By PAYALL ME­HTA |

Fash­ion­ista Michelle Poon­awalla has many colours in her style as well as her per­son­al­ity. Payal Me­hta ex­plores

Be­ing the grand­daugh­ter of renowned ar­chi­tect-artist Late Je­hangir Vaz­if­dar,az­if­dar, who gave the city of Mum­ba­iai some of its most fa­mous struc­tures such as the Breach Candy Apart­ments, Cuffe Cas­tle and Wash­ing­ton House, and the wife of Pune-based bil­lion­aire­naire busi­ness­man, Yo­han Poon­awalla, Michelle Poon­awalla must feel a lot of pres­sure to live up to every­one’s ex­pec­ta­tion­sions to ex­cel as an artist. “I like to livee for my­self. I ex­cel

be­cause I like to ex­cel and I have al­ways ex­celled since child­hood,” she avers, non­cha­lantly. Michelle has been into art from a very young age. She was an A grade stu­dent of Art and is also an Hon­ours grad­u­ate in In­te­rior De­sign. And, hav­ing a vi­sion­ary like Vaz­if­dar as her grand­fa­ther seemed to prove a great boost for her. “I grew up see­ing my grand­fa­ther sketch— his quick black and white sketches in his of­fice. I would come straight from school and he would ask me to pick my favourites of the day,” she rem­i­nisces. Michelle fur­ther talks about his be­liefs that helped her, ‘“An artist is not only meant to paint what he sees, but to evolve emotions much deeper

than that. Art should al­ways be in­tel­li­gent and clever,’ he would say. He had many the­o­ries that he would write about, like his colour al­pha­bet and his straight line the­ory. He even in­vented his own colour dic­tionary, where ev­ery colour was to show a dif­fer­ent emo­tion or char­ac­ter.” Vaz­if­dar had a spe­cial tech­nique called ‘fake proof art’ which he only shared with his beloved grand­daugh­ter, Michelle. Af­ter his demise, Michelle, along with her fa­ther, un­veiled a book on her grand­fa­ther and that’s when she de­cided to take up art pro­fes­sion­ally. We ask her if she could share this se­cret of fraud proof paint­ings that only she is privy to. “A pic­ture/sub­ject is drawn, oil paint is ap­plied us­ing a knife or from a tube, the paint­ing is to­tally mixed up and at one point, all you see is a grey can­vas. Then, a ruler is used to scrape off the im­age be­low. The se­cret is to get a well formed im­age be­low, which can never be re-cre­ated or copied ex­actly the same way, there­fore the name ‘fake proof’,” she gen­er­ously gives us the de­tails. We won­der what her creative process is like, what in­spires this el­e­gant lady to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful piece of art­work, to which she re­sponds, “Nor­mally, be­fore I do a piece, what I want to cre­ate next comes to me and only then I set out on my can­vas. Af­ter I have stud­ied the idea in my head and de­cided my di­rec­tion, I like my art to be pos­i­tive with move­ment and a strong de­sign sense. Sources of in­spi­ra­tion are all around in all fields, be it art, ar­chi­tec­ture, a sculp­ture, but it’s all about what you have grown up see­ing, con­tinue to see and what makes the per­son.” Her but­ter­fly work and but­ter­flies have be­come Michelle’s sig­na­ture style. She also

en­joys paint­ing with a pal­ette knife and uses the ruler tech­nique in some of her work. A strong be­lief in what you want to cre­ate and also a clear vi­sion is what this beau­ti­ful artist be­lieves is the key el­e­ment in cre­at­ing a good piece of art. The woman of few words has been in­vited to be a part of The Ele­phant Pa­rade project with the Prince of Wales Char­ity, a pub­lic art event, aim­ing to gen­er­ate nec­es­sary funds to se­cure 101 ele­phant cor­ri­dors across In­dia for the en­dan­gered Asian ele­phant. It will take place across Jaipur, Delhi and Mum­bai this year. Michelle has also been a jury mem­ber for the Re­tail Jew­eller In­dia Awards since the last four years and is a Gold Pa­tron of the Kochi-Muziris Bi­en­nale, a one of a kind in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tion of con­tem­po­rary art held in Kochi, Ker­ala. Fur­ther, Michelle took up her love for art and phi­lan­thropy by a notch by tak­ing part in the pres­ti­gious art auc­tion helmed by Kapil Dev, ti­tled, Khushii- In­dia On Can­vas, in Delhi. Con­sid­ered as one of In­dia’s most well-known char­ity fundrais­ers and the largest char­ity art auc­tion in Asia, it was con­ducted by the renowned auc­tion house, Sotheby’s, and show­cased the big­gest of names in the world of art. We ask her about the but­ter­fly cre­ation that was dis­played at the auc­tion. “When Khushii asked me to cre­ate a but­ter­fly piece for them in as­so­ci­a­tion with Kapil Dev, it gave me great plea­sure to make a piece of art with a for­mer cap­tain and a crick­et­ing leg­end of In­dia. The art piece was called ‘Vic­tory Head’ which showed the but­ter­flies lead­ing strongly out of the can­vas, just as Kapil Dev led In­dia to many great vic­to­ries. It was a black and white 3D piece. The but­ter­flies flew off the can­vas and it was a very strong, pos­i­tive piece—just like Kapil Dev,” she smiles. Through such projects, Michelle also gets to ful­fill her phil­an­thropic goals, “To give back to our so­ci­ety is some­thing we al­ways en­cour­age as a fam­ily. I re­mem­ber, as a young child, my brother and I would gift our toys, along with milk and bis­cuits, to lit­tle chil­dren ev­ery year. Char­ity is on­go­ing for us and it is some­thing that we strongly be­lieve in,” she con­cludes.

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