Her Chandigarh connection is exquisite. So much, so that it made her wander around the city at 3 am to capture its mysterious beauty, write a dissertation on the city when she hadn’t even visited it, and now, write a book about its rich and vivacious design.
Meet Patsay Craig, who feels she has a past-life connection with the city beautiful. As she unfolds her stories with us, patiently, we feel the same too. Who else could write a long dissertation on the city, without actually having been here? Or continue to research on the city, even when she was living miles away?
She goes on to share her story with us, “I have no fancy story for my love for Chandigarh, but the connection and inclination towards the city has always been really strong,” she says.
Putting her thoughts into words, she remembers her tryst with the city. “While I was pursuing a masters degree in cultural studies from Birkbeck College, University of London, Chandigarh was my topic of dissertation. Then, someone in London told me to curate an exhibition on the city. It was in that context, that I visited the city for the first time in 2006. The exhibition never happened, but here I am, again,” she smiles, and adds, “My research work on Chandigarh never stopped. In 2010, I was awarded a prestigious grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts, Chicago, USA, to help support my work.”
Presently, the artist is working on a book which will examine the legacy of the modernist design in the Indian society and culture titled Chandigarh Catalogue. In the city since a month and a half, she says it will hopefully get published this year. Talking about the book, she adds, “About 80% of it is complete. With a strong and distinctive emphasis on its visual content, it aims to identify the Chandigarh utopian vision and portray the rich and diverse cultural context which is lacking in the publications produced about the city so far.”
Her book’s graphics would have vibrant primary colours—blue, yellow and red because of her love for India and its effervescent colours. Sharing more about her book, she goes on, “Another interesting aspect is that I have used the architecture of Chandigarh to design the book — the patterns helped in the book’s imagery. For example, if I am showing the notary culture in Chandigarh — a situation which is not western — then, while designing, I have used red and black graphics as they symbolise a notary board.”
“I clicked most of the photographs. I would explore the city with a friend, who is a photographer, at 3 am to capture the night shots. These shots were taken in 2006. Back then, the open hand monument was easily accessible and kids could play around it. That is missing today,” says Patsy.
On the content of the book, she says, “I allow the city to speak for itself. Even though the book is about my personal journey in the city, it is an amalgamation of interviews with a cross range of residents, essays, by both local writers and international scholars, and archival material to examine the legacy of modernist design on Indian society and culture.”
“In this light, my in-depth research has focussed on the everyday life of Chandigarh, exploring a broad range of subjects relating to history, culture and urbanism,” Patsy shares, and adds, before signing off, “Through observation, documentation, and analysis, I have explored how the reductive aesthetic of modernist Chandigarh has accommodated the many unanticipated uses, spaces, and forms of this aesthetic by its inhabitants.”