Vinaya Muralidharan and the Art of Simplicity

Sep/06/2020 / by Sasha Borges
vinaya muralidharan
Some of Muralidharan’s work

A Sydney-based watercolor and mixed-media artist is on a mission to spread a simple message; be kind and love more.

Vinaya Muralidharan, who grew up in Thanjavur in south India, remembers the many days spent playing in the cotton fields, the many nights dining under the stars.

“Since I was brought up in a small town where the digital influence was practically non-existent, I remember spending most weekends just playing in the fields with my friends, climbing trees, celebrating festivals and just living life being happy and present in the moment,” she says.

Thanjavur is considered the creative epicenter of south Indian culture, boasting a rich history of religion, art and architecture. Consequently, it was no surprise that Vinaya’s love for art persisted long after she left and made her home in Sydney.

“Art has always been a part of me,” says Muralidharan. “I cannot point out a time in my life when I did not make art. My parents were always supportive of my passion growing up. I was encouraged by my dad to participate in as many art competitions as I could and he made it a point to actively keep track of the next event.”

An engineer by education, Muralidharan acknowledges that if earning well was her goal in life, her days would be spent working a steady 9 to 5 job at a software company,

“It took me a long time to make art my full-time profession, purely because of the financial side of things,: she says. “It’s not easy to earn from it like the way you do through other secure jobs.”

Vinaya Muralidharan

Muralidharan says that money never defined her definition of success.

“Over the years, I’ve realized that no matter how much you earn or where you live, it’s always the small everyday moments that count,” she told SEEMA. “We weren’t the richest kids around growing up, but I’m pretty sure we were among the happiest and most satisfied because my parents stressed the importance of living for the simple moments and creating lasting memories.

“The fact that I can do this now, after so long, is because of my husband. He played an important role in giving me the confidence to pursue this dream of mine on a full-time basis. I wake up and look forward to that day because I paint and create. Embracing the beauty of every day life is important to me and I use art as a medium to express this unique aspect about myself.”

At the intersection of Thanjavur and Sydney

Vinaya’s art imitates life, every collection inspired by the natural beauty of suburbia – and her cultural heritage.

“The colors I work with … I attribute to my Indian upbringing,” she says. “We have always been surrounded by colors, even in … everyday life. From the weddings, to the fabrics, to the market, there is so much inspiration to be drawn from everywhere when it comes to colors and patterns. From the science of [cooking], the beauty of handmade goods, the special meaning of colors and how it affects us, the essence of spirituality and so much more…. There are so many aspects of my cultural background that weave their way into my creative process!”

As the mother of a baby boy, Vinaya wants to pass this love of her Indian culture to her son, in addition to the many life lessons she has learned over the years.

“Being kind is cool, so be kind always. Pursue your passions wholeheartedly. If there are two options, one in which you can earn a lot of money but you don’t love your job, and another in which you earn in such a way that you can just support yourself, choose the second option. Look for answers within yourself first, although it may be difficult at times, it will be the most honest thing you do for yourself. Keep your family and good friendships close. You do come alone and go alone, but while you’re here, you need LOVE! And finally, give back. The happiness you get from giving back is something that can’t be matched and it will make you want to keep giving over and over again.”



There’s other ways to celebrate the work of South Asian artists on SEEMA, like that of Anu Bhat

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