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VOL. XXII NO. 7, July 16-31, 2012
Ismena Warren – documenting Madras in water-colours and sketches
Sriram V.

A greeting card designed by Ismena Warren.

I first came across Ismena Warren's name in the book, The Story of Fort St. George, written by Col. Douglas Muir Reid in 1945 and released that year by the Governor of Madras, Sir Arthur Hope. I am the proud owner of a first edition of this book, autographed by the author. Apart from the simple and easy-to-read text, what sets this book apart is the profusion of black and white sketches done by Ismena Warren. That set in motion a search for the artist. A Madras Musings regular contributor, UMA NARAYAN, remembered her being taught sketching by Ismena Warren and we reproduce below what she recollects:

"Ms Ismena Warren was an Irish missionary, probably from Belfast, who came to India in the 1950s. She joined the Christian Literature Society (CLS) and worked as an illustrator and resident artist. She designed and produced calendars and greetings cards for CLS for which she used Indian themes. She also sketched many of the buildings in existence in those days.

Ismena taught art to children at the Memorial Hall. She made the subject interesting by first telling stories from classics such as, for example, how the ele-phant got its trunk and then asking the children to paint on the theme. This approach enthused the children and the art classes were great fun. She continued her association with the CLS till she left. She lived in the upstairs of an old spacious colonial building in Vepery, in the vicinity of St. Paul's School and St. Mathia's Church. She appears to have got married after she left Madras."

It was indeed very thoughtful of Uma Narayan to send not only a greetings card done by Ismena Warren but also a painting of Montieth House, the then residence of the Manager of the Chartered Bank, which stood on Montieth Road. Searches in the internet also revealed that Ismena co-authored a book, In and Out of India with Pat Barton. Some of her paintings with Indian themes are at the Billy Graham Centre, Wheaton College, Illinois.

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In this issue

First in bus accidents – a dubious status for Chennai
Whither VP Hall's restoration?
Nostalgia – Memories of Madras
Looking back – Goldingham and the Madras Observatory
Cricket in India stands for hope & opportunity
A music academy for the future
Ismena Warren – documenting Madras in water-colours and sketches
Better use of city spaces
Garden gloom

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan


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