The stamp of creativity

Stanislaw Bobela

The stamp of creativity
One is really not sure about what to call Deepa Melkote’s hobby but ‘stamp painting’ is kind of close. The octogenarian homemaker is a woman of many talents, one of which is creating colourful, intricate collages from stamps.

“I actually took this is up because of my son’s hobby,” says Deepa laughingly. “Right from childhood, he was into stamp collection. He would keep all the good stamps and throw away the torn ones or the ones that were not very special. I felt bad seeing the thrown away stamps; they were all so colourful. I had read in a magazine about a British lady who made a wallpaper from stamps and that inspired me to create these paintings.”

She recalls the time when the peon in her husband’s office in Vidhana Soudha was instructed not to throw away any stamps. “They had a lot of official correspondence and stamps were in plenty at that time. My husband, who was an IAS officer, ensured a good supply of stamps for me to pursue my hobby. That was one of the reasons why I created an artwork of the Vidhana Soudha.”

Deepa does not have any particular preferences when it comes to designs. Whatever strikes her fancy, from pictures in magazines to scenes from daily life, is recreated onto a canvas with paints and pigments being replaced by neatly cut colourful stamps. Deepa sketches the outlines herself.

“My interest in stamps is only limited to the colour — the more colourful they are, the more attracted I am to them. My collection of stamps is more like a paint box,” says Deepa. She says that she has not been facing much trouble sourcing stamps even in today’s times thanks to her son who has taken his childhood passion forward. Nikhilesh Melkote is now the General secretary of Karnataka Philately Society and has a stunning thematic stamp collection himself. “He still throws away the ones he can’t use and I still use them for my paintings,” Deepa says.

Deepa’s collections have been displayed in schools and in exhibitions, including one at the Mysore Dasara, and has garnered praise from everyone who has laid eyes on it. “My friends and family tell me they could never do something like it. It requires patience and time — things which no one seems to have these days.”

The time taken depends on the design. There are some days when Deepa finishes an artwork in one sitting. “Sometimes I may not have stamps of a particular colour so I have to wait till I get these to finish the painting.”

Asked about other hobbies, she cheerfully replies, “I go to play bridge in the evenings. And I love embroidery, crochet and knitting. I have done the ‘kasuti’ work on more than 100 saris now. And I also make other things from discarded items, like decorations from silver foil that can be used at Christmas. I just hate throwing things out.”

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