Bhavani’s love for both nature and art began at a very young age. Growing up in Somawarpet, Coorg, her art and her ideology shaped up through her childhood. Her home was amidst green fields, hills, and forests. Most often she loved spending time at a stream near her house, observing the birds, animals, trees, and the water. Her flair for drawing and sketching was recognised by her teachers in school, who would call upon her to draw diagrams and sketches on the blackboard.
Bhavani did her Bachelor’s degree in commerce, got married and moved to Tumkur, but her love for art was still strong. She decided that she wanted to pursue art. She began with a part-time course while juggling her responsibilities of everyday bustle as a young bride and daughter-in-law. She later enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Fine arts in Tumkur. She enjoyed learning and working; it made her forget everything else. She then moved to Bangalore to pursue a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at Chitrakala Parishath.
Bhavani uses a variety of modes and media for her art— sketching, painting, installations, and videos. She has received scholarships, grants, and invitations to art residencies in India and abroad. She also conducts workshops and camps, mostly with the Government of Karnataka. Her videos have been screened at film festivals, and she has done many solo and group exhibitions too.
Right after her graduation, Bhavani painted ‘Somwarpet 5 Kms.’ ‘This is the work I did after my BFA when I was wondering what to paint and was searching for a theme. It is the place where I used to wait for my school van every day.’
‘The amalgamation of art and ecology in my works,’ she says, ‘is all attributed to a field trip I took to Araku valley with my fellow students as part of my course, which was extremely educative. The first art installation we worked on as a group involved interacting with the local community and their culture.
Using materials from nature (non-timber forest products) and incorporating local culture to create my art was an important choice that defined my future site specific installations working with elements of nature like water, stones, leaves, grasses.’
The changing ecology led Bhavani to question the causes and effects on the relationship between humans and the environment. Her art became political. Because of her intimate history with the river Kaveri, she researched issues like consumption and distribution of the river water. Who gets access to water, who benefits and who loses from it? How much water does it take to grow cotton? She worked on several paintings and a video titled Embedded water about the river Kaveri—combining the past, the present, and looking towards a sustainable future for the river and the people dependent on it.
‘Cauvery +Tributaries are a set of paintings depicting the fifteen tributaries which I like with the River Cauvery map on it. I have also painted the iron bridge on Harangi, which I loved as a child. The bridge was lovely and the river flowing below was a treat, with me watching the River Bhavani – Sujyothe, a subterranean river with my reflection. I have painted River Lokapavani twice because both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states claim that the river is theirs.’
Another water issue related project Bhavani was involved in is “The Lost Lakes of Bangalore”. This is a project which documented Bengaluru’s many tanks and lakes which have vanished with unplanned urbanization and growth. Here Bhavani G.S. records the memories of people who lived and worked around the lake in its hey days. Today the lake is the Ambedkar sports grounds and surrounding areas in Basaveshwaranagar. Kere stop !
In her own words, Bhavani finds her art and its nature themes therapeutic.
My works are also about my ‘self’; a kind of personal journey into the sub-conscious; an expression of the deep urge to unravel my own being; Nature gives us life and energy, opportunities to meditative silent prayer or unbelievable experiences of beauty – describes Bhavani about her work in her website .