Prabhavathi Meppayil, who was born into a goldsmithing family, often encases copper wires—and less frequently, bits of gold or silver—in layers of white gesso or scribbles on its surface with goldsmithing tools, incorporating her ancestors’ techniques and materials into a modernist-era plastic language. She focuses on materials and tools, as well as the technical aspects of creative activity.
Her studio’s master metalworkers stretch the metals before she embeds them in the gesso panels. She applies multiple coatings of gesso on wooden panels before polishing them. The combination between the metal and the gesso has surprising results, with the surface colours themselves fading over time. She has etched minute indents over the gesso in some of her works using the traditional thinnam, steel tools used by jewellers.