92-year-old Artist Holds Her First Exhibition

'Colours In My Eyes' coming to OPEN Ealing Arts Centre

Savita Vithalji Katbamna, or Ba

A 92-year-old woman is holding her inaugural art exhibition at OPEN Ealing Arts Centre.

‘Colours In My Eyes’ features the work of Savita Vithalji Katbamna, or Ba, as she is known to all her family and friends.

Savita was born in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India in December 1929. She and her late husband Vithalji moved with their young family in 1964 to Kenya and then, in 1968, to the UK.

Her love of the arts was shared by her husband, whose passion was photography. Ba’s youthful spirit springs from her family of 8 children (4 of whom live in Ealing), 14 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren, 8 greatgrandchildren and 6 step-great-grandchildren.

During the pandemic, Savita shielded at home, and last year she took up painting in acrylics on canvas as a hobby. She started to receive commissions for her art. Now at 92 years of age, Ba is holding her first art exhibition, having completed over 200 canvasses.

Some samples of her work
Some samples of her work

One project of the artist’s work recreated a childhood memory of another nonagenarian. At the age of 91, Ba painted a fox as a gift for Ealing residents Mr and Mrs Niall and Dorothy Fox, both in their early 90s. Mr Fox commissioned her to paint a reclining tiger for his 99-year-old friend, Mr Bob White. She then painted a surprise gift for 94-year-old Niall Fox to recreate a childhood memory he had told her about – as a child growing up in the 1930s during economic unrest, he had joined in efforts to feed starving elephants in Dublin Zoo and an adult elephant had scooped him up while he was feeding a baby elephant.

One of Ba’s daughters created the outline of the child and the elephants from a composite of references which included a childhood photo of Niall seated in a toy vehicle, and archived materials to ascertain the ages, heights and names of the elephants. Ba’s painting was gifted along with a brief historical account gleaned from news items from the 1930s. It appeared that the adult elephant had been banned from giving rides to the public.

When Mr Fox received this gift, he immediately showed his wife and exclaimed, “This is how it was!”

She says, “Even before I apply paint to canvas or threads to an embroidery piece, I see colours in my eyes of how the finished piece will be. I learned to embroider as a child, stitching flowers, peacocks, parrots and animals onto textiles and sarees,”

Painting has been an alternativeto embroidery, distracting Ba from arthritis pains and physical distance from loved ones. Ba has frequent conversations about her art with each family member to discover what to create for them. She develops her ideas further so that her daughters can sketch outlines of animals, whimsical creatures, Hindu deities, Maharajas, and family members and friends on canvas, much like embroidery templates. She then paints with her own style and a choice of vibrant colours.

Her unique style has created much excitement in and outside her family, with numerous commissions for her paintings. Commissioned pieces have given her insights into the lives and interests of her family and friends whose company she has not been able to enjoy since 2020 due to the lockdowns.

Ba displays her latest artwork on online meetings with family and friends, and her singing group. This exhibition marks the first time that her lockdown paintings will be displayed altogether in public.

Liz Pope says, “Ba has been finding out about her family’s interests and stories and her painting is connecting back with them. A two-way process has developed into a deep connection between Ba and her family. The paintings show them her interest in them and in their lives – that she is thinking of them and is
thinking of what matters to them. They get to see Ba is joyful, is vibrant and connecting with them from her bedroom/art studio.”

Her exhibition ‘Colours In My Eyes’ will be at Open Ealing Arts Centre on the 6th, 7th and 8th May with free entry to the general public.

Times for general public viewing:

Friday 6th May: 10am – 1pm then 6.30pm – 10pm
Saturday 7th May: 11.30am – 1pm then 4pm – 6.30pm
Sunday 8th May: 10am – 2.30pm and 6pm – 8pm

OPEN Ealing Arts Centre is at School Lane, Dickens Yard (W5 2TD).

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact info@neighbournet.com and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.

April 28, 2022