Art and technology collaborate in the
meditation chambers of the twelve petals around Matrimandir
The pace of the work to complete the twelve
meditation chambers in the petals around the Matrimandir has been
slow, as this work was never considered a priority. These days,
however, much progress is being made and there is light at the
end of the tunnel - in fact almost literally in the case of the
light shields for each of the windows, the porthole-like opening
in each Chamber. Auroville Today met with artist Shanta (Chantal
Gowa) to hear about the latest realizations.
"I have been working on this project for over 7 years,"
says Shanta. Recognised for her intuitive sensibility and artistic
vision, Shanta was invited by Roger Anger to select the correct
colours and design the window shields for each of the twelve meditation
chambers surrounding the Matrimandir. Each of the chambers is
to be painted a specific colour, to which The Mother attributed
a specific quality, so that visitors to the chamber can meditate
on that aspect of their journey towards integrality.
"Sincerity (light blue), Peace (deep blue), Equality (blue
violet), Generosity (pure violet), Goodness (reddish violet),
Courage (pure red), Progress (vermillion), Receptivity (orange),
Aspiration (golden yellow), Perseverance (light yellow), Gratitude
(light green), and Humility (dark green) are the dozen.
Shanta has painstakingly researched the meanings behind the attributes
of each colour. Gathering The Mother's and Sri Aurobindo's own
words to describe these attributes, she has built up a voluminous
reference work to which she constantly turns for inspiration as
she visualizes her window designs.
"When I first came here, it was the pale shades that Aurovilians
liked," says Shanta." An early experiment was with the
colour violet painted in a Spanish fresco style and tested in
the Generosity chamber. But it has given a somewhat washed-out
impression and more and more I got the feeling that it is the
wrong choice." The search for the perfect violet continues.
"The Mother always spoke of pure colours. When She spoke
of pure red, it is not pink that she meant! Mother spoke about
the petals as a space in which to have a colour bath," explains
Shanta. "If you need courage for example, you go to the appropriate
chamber with the red walls. There you sit for whatever time you
need and immerse in the vibration of that colour." Shanta
believes that if the colour is the exact pigmentation as visualized
by The Mother, then its vibration will bear the quality attributed
to it. "This is why we have been so particular to get the
Currently a seemingly correct deep blue pigment has been 'discovered'
for the Peace chamber and brought all the way from Germany. "It
is a pure pigment, and we had to mix it with media and prepare
the paint ourselves," recollects Shanta. She goes on to narrate
the elaborate process that followed. "We decided to use the
dynamised water prepared by Bhagawandas that had been exposed
to the mantra of The Mother [see AVToday January 2002, #156].
We made close to15 litres of paint, and seven of us painted the
Alongside the work to select the pigments, the design of the shields
for each window progressed. Shanta explains that until three years
ago the shields were visualised as circular semi-transparent pieces.
"Then Roger Anger wanted to try the overall shape of the
Matrimandir. This resulted in oval shields, measuring 155 centimetres
by 130 centimetres."
The white-colour shields are double layered and curve inwards.
A gap of a few inches separates them. The inner layer consists
of a sheet of translucent fibreglass. The outer layer is also
made of the same material. It is on this layer that Shanta creates
her designs of oval cut-outs of various sizes. The light coming
through the two shields into the Chamber has a chiaroscuro effect,
a magical play of golden light and shadow through the cut-outs
in the fibreglass. Shanta shares her experience: "I discovered
a wonderful effect. Sometimes it is like a sphere, sometimes like
the moon, like the various phases of the moon. It feels like something
from another world."
Shanta does her experiments using some of the finest white paper
available in France. But recently work progressed a step further.
In collaboration with Joel, who fabricates light aircraft bodies
in a factory near Bangalore, Shanta has realised the first of
the 12 shields, an inspired creation of breathtaking beauty, which
will soon be placed in the Peace chamber.
As with so many other aspects of the Matrimandir, the collaboration
of artistic vision with modern materials and advanced technology
has again borne fruit.