Another exhibition of unusual photographs of The Mother has been held in Auroville. There are now two such exhibitions each year; one around February 21, Mother's birthday, at the Savitri Bhavan; and one around August 15, Sri Aurobindo's birthday, at the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture. The organizer of these exhibitions is Loretta. She is Auroville's focal point for the three-way collaboration between Auroville, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry , and the Delhi branch of the Ashram. The photographs are from the Sri Aurobindo Book Distribution Agency (SABDA) branch of the Delhi Ashram; Mother and Sri Aurobindo's possessions are loaned by Srismriti, the Mother's Museum in the Ashram; and the work for the exhibitions is done by Aurovilians.
The latest exhibition, called “Mother's Care”, took place at Savitri Bhavan from February 18th until March 19th. There were many photographs of Mother with children and there was one wall with a series of portrait-photographs of Mother in conversation, showing Her changing expressions. The accompanying quotations were mainly memories of tender and caring things Mother had done, and a few excerpts from Savitri. There were also some of Mother's personal belongings which had stories associated with them.
As usual, some rare and some well-known photographs of Mother were for sale.
“My perception is that Mother and Sri Aurobindo work through Their photographs and through the exhibitions,” says Loretta. “Each exhibition has a different atmosphere, but always you can feel Their Presence. My goal in arranging these exhibitions is to have that indescribable atmosphere that, to me, is Mother's living Presence; the Presence which I felt, day and night, when I was living in the Ashram when Mother was there. It makes me really happy when the old Ashramites tell me that, to them, the exhibition feels like it did when Mother was living in the Ashram.”
The plans for each exhibition start six months to a year in advance, when the idea for the theme comes. “There is such a vast wealth of material that I never start with pre-set ideas. I just stay open,” says Loretta. “The content of each exhibition unfolds through the selection of the photographs, the research for quotations, and the selection of the various items which belonged to Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Once everything is framed and prepared, the location of each photograph and object arranges itself spontaneously in the exhibition space.”
There are always flowers in the exhibition. “They seem to have a special affinity for Mother's Presence and Her photographs,” says Loretta. “We were amazed to see how long they lasted – 22 days, without refreshing the water. Also last August, in the exhibition called “Mother's Aspirations and Prayers” there was a place for meditation in front of a very large photograph of Mother which She named “Realisation”. One morning I'd arranged many stalks of orchids in a large bowl, in a fan, like a peacock's tail, in front of the photograph. By 5:00 pm , each individual flower had twisted around on the stalk to face the Mother's photograph.”
“Working on each exhibition is like opening a door to somewhere, and when it as all over and I walk out, I feel a different person,” says Loretta. It's a feeling many will have shared.