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Im here for the craft. The Amazing Thread Garden at Malampuzha, Palakkad, Kerala.

Dr.Krishnaja A. P. 13-09-2013

The amazing Thread Garden at Malampuzha, Palakkad, Kerala.

It was November 2000 and we had hurriedly planned a trip down South. After 15 years, I wanted to be home on my fathers death anniversary. Also on the itinerary were visits to several important temples which our teenage daughters were not too enthusiastic about. So we decided to squeeze in Malampuzha. Easily accessible from Coimbatore on our way to Calicut, Malampuzha in Palakkad district is a small, picturesque township on the scenic foothills of the Western Ghats. The lush green town takes its name from the Malampuzha river, a tributary of Bharathapuzha, the second longest river in Kerala. Known for the largest reservoir in Kerala, the Malampuzha dam, beautiful landscaped gardens, ropeway and rock garden, the first of its kind in South India, the scenic surprise continues to be a major tourist attraction. Must say, it still remains in memory among favourites--- nature at its best, and where we had some wonderful family moments.

While in Malampuzha, we heard about a Thread Garden, touted as a must-visit. The garden was indeed a revelation! All our vague ideas and our skepticism were blown away by what we saw an actual garden, filled with blooms. It was a marvelous creation indeed, with a breathtaking display of an array of colourful flowers, endless variety of plants including creepers, climbers, manicured lawns, cool lotus ponds etc., all wonderfully replicating a virtual garden, essentially capturing its natural ambience. The entire garden, however, is fabricated from thread, canvas and wire, except for the pots and soil used.

The man behind this unique, innovative concept was a certain Mr Antony Joseph. Conceived and executed under this unassuming mans guidance, the Thread Garden is the result of hard labour, skillful effort and craftsmanship of a number of specially trained artists. We stood there, humbled and awed when we were told that the beautiful garden around us was the result of 12 years of dedicated and untiring efforts on the part of these artists.

The artefacts look so natural, that unless you touch them, you will not be able to figure out if they are not real. They have been made entirely by hand, with absolutely no machinery or needle used at any time during production. Made with Madura Coats embroidery threads of more than 400 different hues, shades and a mind-boggling length, the flowers were created using a technique developed and perfected through trial and observation. Since the artefacts need to be protected from direct sunlight or artificial light, they are kept in transparent acrylic

fiber cases. The cases ensure their long term maintenance by protecting from light, heat, moisture and dust particles. A unique aesthetic creation par-excellence, the Thread Garden is indeed Antonys artistic and imaginative expression of nature.

Whenever I think of the Thread Garden and the man who made it, a story about a Zen master that I read long ago comes to mind. The Zen master was passionate about gardening and wanted to create a perfect and the most beautiful garden ever in the world. So he visualized, toiled hard, scouted for the perfect plot, made the chosen land plant worthy, selected the seeds and plants, travelled far and wide to obtain the rare plants, colourful rocks and pebbles that would grace the future garden. Finally at the end of nine long hard years, the dream garden lay sprawled out in front of him, exactly the way he had visualized. Indeed the most beautiful garden ever created in the world. He looked at the perfect and artistic creation with a deep sense of satisfaction. What a beautiful sight it was! The flowers in so many vivid hues, the morning sunrays playing hide and seek in the lush green shrubs and bushes, the leisurely crawling creepers trying to keep pace with the runners for a change, the rocks and pebbles amicably formed a pretty tracery. It was a grand, colourful visual. The Zen master took a long look, a deep breath. Then slowly and steadily he began the work of taking apart the garden, putting every rock and every plant back to where he had brought it fromuntil no trace- not one blade of grass or a piece of rock or pebble remained of the garden he had toiled nine years for...

This detached involvement is perfectly captured in Linchpin by Seth Godin: The linchpin is able to invent a future, fall in love with it, live in it and then abandon it on a moments notice. What makes the true artist so great isnt a single future, its their ability to create new futures over and over again.

I took a last look at the Thread Garden, this unique creation of Antony Joseph. As I turned to leave, I heard a soft voice behind me say ---Im here for the craft.