Ms Vijayalakshmi Mohan is a Singapore-based artist and art therapist who creates rangoli. In fact, a 256 square metres design she produced in 2003 at the Whampoa Community Club had the distinction of being, at that time, the world’s largest rangoli pattern created, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
She began to learn the art form at the age of three from her mother in her hometown in Tamil Nadu, India. After she migrated to Singapore in 1993, she made rangoli the traditional way initially. However, the demand for contemporary designs led her to explore different materials. She now does “SingaRangoli”, named thus because she created it here. The style gives rangoli a modern touch, and as many as 30 to 40 materials are used. She has even experimented with recyclables in her rangoli.
Ms Mohan spends her days conducting rangoli workshops and preparing rangoli items. In Singapore, her workshops have been held at community centres, schools, and universities, hospitals, children’s homes as well as old folks’ homes.
These workshops are close to her heart. “As an art therapist, I feel colour gives a lot of energy… using various colours and various materials, emotionally the people are happy and it changes their mood,” she says.
Along with her workshops, Ms Mohan has undertaken projects such as Rangoli Radiance, and “lantern rangoli”,a collaboration with a Chinese artist done in 2017. With the help of 1,000 participants from voluntary welfare organisations, they made 1,500 lantern rangoli for display at the Gardens by the Bay. Ms Mohan hopes to do a similar collaboration with a Malay artist to make “batik rangoli”.
Ms Mohan also travels worldwide by invitation to teach the art of making rangoli. In Australia, she made a rangoli on a beach with the help of locals, creating the design with a rake and filling it with the stones lying around. She has also been to American universities to teach art and art history students about rangoli.