Street artist Anpu Varkey brings alive her childhood memories through a silent book

Alisha Shinde
Monday, 16 March 2020

Silence is indeed powerful than words. Isn’t it wonderful to imagine how much you can express through silence? You can experience all this in Delhi-based Anpu Varkey’s Summer’s Children — Silent Book.

Silence is indeed powerful than words. Isn’t it wonderful to imagine how much you can express through silence? You can experience all this in Delhi-based Anpu Varkey’s Summer’s Children —  Silent Book. 

The book, which took three years to make, is a memory of a forgotten place that takes us to Varkey’s childhood.  What makes this book stand out is the approach the artist takes. With just a few words and sepia-tinted images,the author successfully takes us back to a land close to her heart — in the interiors of a rubber plantation in Kerala. 
 
Silent narrative
The whole book of 100 pages is rendered in a pointillistic technique, to make it seem like a sepia tinted old film. The book is about memory and loss, and structured around a child’s vision of the plenitude of the land. 

“The plot sticks to an uninterrupted visual milieu pivoted on a deep tropical habitation during the onset of monsoon with sounds that pulsate the ground and sky alike,” says Varkey. 
 
It is a silent narrative in vivid detail of one summer day through the eyes of two siblings. The author weaves this narrative as if they are ‘one being’ with two separate bodies. One leads and the other follows.
 
Varkey is an artist who primarily works on large wall murals and public art. A book has limited space, so when she started working on it, it tested her creative thinking and pushed her to do more. “It took me one to two weeks to create one page of the book because space is restricted, hence the attention to detail is much more and there couldn’t be any errors,” she says. 

It took her two years to draw for the book and a year to look around for publishers. The whole process took around three years after which she self-published the book, just like her first book Jaba. 
 
Add your sounds

“The book is rather fluid and is suitable for people of any age group, no matter what language they speak,” she says. 

Varkey believes that silent books give people the liberty to interpret the story as they want and add the sounds that they want to rather than the limited perception of the author.
 
She had this particular story for several years now, but she wasn’t sure how to put words to it, which is why, she decided to go ahead with the silent concept so that more people could connect with her and follow her story.
 
Varkey thinks that silent comics not only draw attention to the overall scene but also put emphasis on the mood of the reader and help them reflect on it. With silent comics, the reader’s involvement becomes more active as they pay attention to each and every detail on the page and go to the depth of the story on many levels. The words here don’t gain the upper hand, the reader does. 

 A happy place
Varkey is most commonly known for the giant mural of Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi. When she first started off with art school she had never anticipated that she would ever venture into the public art space. “When it comes to art and me, I have always chosen to go with the flow and it has taken me to a lot of places,” says Varkey, adding that swinging on buildings, holding brushes, talking to people who gather to see what she is doing, telling a tea-stall owner what she is up to — is her a happy place. 

“Art makes me happy and I want to explore more fields pertaining to the field. Be it animation, music and even books — I want to try my hand at everything so that later on, I have no regrets,” says the artist-cum-author. 

(The book is available on http://anpuvarkey.com/summers-children/)

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