Princess Nandini Singh Jhabua is an art custodian for tribal art in India. She says that like all Rajput girls, she too went to Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls School, and spent her formative years in hostel, where she made friends from all walks of life. “After that, I completed my higher education in Mumbai, married a lovely Rajput man and moved to America,” shares the feisty, elegant princess, who comes across as a modern-day, contemporary royal. After she completed her Master’s in the US and worked for about five years, she moved to India, only to fall in love with the Gond art form. Naturally, she took it upon herself to revive certain other art forms as well, particularly those in Madhya Pradesh, where her roots are.
When did you first realise your interest in art?
I’ve always loved art. But my interest in it really began in 2012, when I started collecting a lot of wildlife art for my homes in Indore and New Delhi. This was after staying in America for 10 years, and then moving back to India to be with family and to give my kids Indian values.
What art do you most identify with? And what’s your favourite artwork?
I love traditional Indian art. And anything aboriginal, tribal Gond art, and wildlife have a special place in my heart. I have this gorgeous tree of life that hangs in my living room in Delhi, which I absolutely adore!
Is there anything you dislike about the art world?
It’s difficult to dislike any particular form of art. Art is subjective for everyone. There are some artists you reckon with, and some you don’t. But that doesn’t necessarily imply that you don’t like their work. I’m liberal and I believe that everyone has the right to express themselves freely, through any form of art they practice.
Describe a real life situation that inspired you.
Something that inspired me was seeing many wonderful women in India – especially from the royal lineage – bring art, textiles, and jewellery from their states/regions to various cities through the exposition called Royal Fables. Not only are we giving back to our artisans, but we’re also helping restore our old culture and heritage. I was amazed to see the will to promote different artisans, bringing their work to prominence. This initiative made me go back to my area of Jhabua and work with tribal artists and enhance their creativity with ideas and vision.
What are your other passions?
I love music. And I love cooking too, once in a while. These are my stress busters. I also love entertaining, having people over and giving them a taste of my hospitality (smiles)!
Your advice to aspiring artists?
Create more and express freely, as all your emotions can deliver your message through strokes. Enjoy art. Create, don’t hate!
What do you usually communicate with your art?
I try to communicate vision, clarity, and focus through my art. I’m able to look at a painting and enjoy the depth of the colours, the meaning, the strokes. I’m in a dream when looking at an art form I particularly like. – as told to Sumana