Kochi-based septuagenarian started upcycling old toys during the lockdown, here's why

At 76, S Devaki is telling us all that art knows no age

author_img Aathira Haridas Published :  07th October 2021 11:45 AM   |   Published :   |  07th October 2021 11:45 AM

Devaki posing with dolls she made by upcycling fabric and old toys

Her passion is ageless. For S Devaki, art was something she picked up when she was young. But then, life got too busy. But they say it is always better late than never. So, at the age of 76, Devaki is spending time immersed in art.

Barbie dolls living in Raja Ravi Varma paintings, instances from her favourite poems and many such unique instances are frozen in time through her art. For instance, the poem ‘Chandalabhikshuki’ by Kumaranasan is fashioned out using upcycled Barbie dolls. The painting ‘Shakuntala – Looks of Love’ by Raja Ravi Varma is also recreated using repurposed dolls.

At her home in Poundikonam, Thiruvananthapuram, dolls decked up in upcycled fabrics vie for one’s attention. The septuagenarian also adapts elements from Kerala’s culture and tradition. Apart from dolls, flowers and plants crafted by her lie cheek by jowl in the display cabinet at her home. The pandemic period saw the best of her creativity. 

“I believe in the need to keep myself engaged. Age is not a limit for anything. You can learn and do whatever you want at any age. You just need to have the passion and willingness to explore. The only challenge is when I work on tiny things, like threading a needle, and my eyes don’t keep up,” quips Devaki.  

During the lockdown, she took out old Barbie dolls that her kids used to play with and started upcycling them along with old saris. Every doll is crafted with utmost precision and accessorised with clothes and jewellery.  Her ‘Brides of Kerala’ series features all three faiths effortlessly.

“The pieces of jewellery pieces were cut in the right proportion and reworked on. My son is an architect so he gives me pointers. I haven’t left any detail out,” says Devaki. Paper cups, old jewellery, bobbin case and every other scrap becomes raw material for her artsy journey.

Seeing her passion for upcycling, her granddaughter’s friends have started dropping off their old dolls. “The joy of creation is something else — from the time you conceive it, to the moment it is executed. And seeing that final product gives you so much joy,” says Devaki.