HSC 2012 Visual Art student Tanaya Deshpande aims her lens at India. RAJNI ANAND LUTHRA reports
India, it is said, is an amazing place for photography. For budding Sydney photographer Tanaya Deshpande, her native India turned out to be a wealth of opportunity – and a cause for HSC success. The Turramurra youngster picked photography as her medium for her Year 12 visual art course last year. Tanaya’s major work, entitled Made in India, is based on a series of stunning images from her homeland. It won her a Band 6 result.
“I was looking for the real India, stripped back from the commercial,” Tanaya, who finished her HSC at Pymble Ladies College (PLC) in 2012, told Indian Link. Getting down to the bare basics, the young photographer found beauty in shots of nature, just as much as in those of people. Poignant photographs of street kids, the colours of life on street-sides, even moments from the daily routine of life, captured her interest. For sure, you will find hints of the western stereotypes about India – the Taj, elephants, henna tattoos. But this, ultimately, is the beauty of the work: it shows the artist looking at India from the vantage point of a native, as well as that of an outsider.The striking feature of the composite image is that the individual shots are projected on to the bare backs of human figures.
“My statement is that travel changes you: it leaves a mark on you that stays forever,” Tanaya revealed.
She might as well have been saying that India leaves a stamp on you forever. The work was presented on 9mm-thick wood, with other photos on thermacol. It comes as a surprise to learn that Tanaya only took up photography three years ago. “My uncle is a keen photographer and inspired by him I began to play around with the camera,” said Tanaya. Her first pieces were based on flowers. “I wasn’t even going to do visual art as a subject in Year 12,” Tanaya admitted. “It just occurred to me while thinking about my possible subjects that perhaps I should do something creative to get a break from the rigour of other subjects, so I picked it. And then I couldn’t decide between photography and ceramics, both very popular options at my school, and both of which scale well”.In the end of course, it all worked well for the spunky young girl. “Not only did I finish with a Band 6 in visual art, it also turned out to be my best subject!” she said.
Today much of Tanaya’s Year 11 and Year 12 work is shown as samples for the benefit of younger students at PLC who are starting off in the subject. Speaking about her school course in photography, Tanaya said, “In my first year in photography in Year 11, I learned all about the camera and how to use it. A lot of it was new to me, such as ISO exposure and all the jargon! We also learned how to organise photoshoots and did various experiments such as underwater photography, and then went on to Photoshop as well.” She continued, “By the end of Year 11, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get on to my major work for the HSC. Various project ideas came into my head, especially as my teacher said, ‘think big, the world is your oyster’.” That year Tanaya travelled to India with her family and came back with about a thousand shots on her camera. She knew then that those photos would form her final work for the HSC.
“Of course, to pick 6 out of the lot was a challenge,” she said with a laugh. “But my teacher helped me as I sorted through them. As I looked at the work of other artists to get a better perspective, the idea came to be that I could project each of my chosen images on to the bare back of a human figure.” The end result was nothing short of striking. The work is certainly a pat on the back for this talented photographer.