When sketching acts as therapy

Delhi's monuments

Back in 2009, artist Yajanekka Aroraa got bedridden for three years because of meningitis. For someone who was actively working as a TV producer and a documentary filmmaker, the illness led to depression. It was at that time when the 45-year-old took up sketching the historical monuments of Delhi.

This, she says, “was like therapy” for her. “Those three years have been very shocking for me. I did not want to rely on anti-depressants so I took up sketching. Every day, sketching different angles and parts of Delhi’s monuments was like a stress buster,” says Aroraa, who’s 18 sketches are currently on display at her solo show at the India Habitat Centre.

“Whenever I visit these monuments, I feel as if the stones speak to me. Every stone in a monument has a story, and any corner or arch, or a ruin can beckon you. My way of expressing it is by taking my glass marking pencil and sketching it on a paper,” she says.

Titled ‘Shahar-E-Dilli’, the exhibition showcases Aroraa’s unique way of looking at monuments like Agrasen ki Baoli, Qutb Minar and Purana Qila. From broken windows to intersecting pillars and broken walls, the sketches portray the most unseen and unnoticed parts of these historical monuments. 

On her idea of detailing and sketching the ruins of these monuments, she adds,
“Delhi is like a phoenix city. It has been destroyed many times and has stood up again from broken pieces. These monuments are a witness to that.”

Most of the sketches include monuments of south Delhi, including Nila Gumbad in Nizamuddin east , Rajon ki Baoli and Jamali Kamali Mosque in Mehrauli. While every sketch took at least a month to complete, she says that every sketch “motivated” her and acted as a “rendering in fine art”.

“Apart from being an attempt at preserving history, these artworks also helped me in coming out of the deep dark cave that depression takes one into,” Aroraa tells Metrolife.  
‘Shahar-E-Dilli’ is on display at Delhi O Delhi Foyer, India Habitat Centre, till
August 31, from 10 am to 8 pm.

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