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Bangalore: 'Gombe Sister' Potrays Life through Amazing Dolls


Bangalore: 'Gombe Sister' Potrays Life through Amazing Dolls

from Jessie Rodrigues
for Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore (AF)

Bangalore, Mar 28: Sr Francoise Bosteels, popularly known as 'Gombe Sister' is a famous doll maker who specializes in conveying meaningful messages through her art. 'Gombe' in Kannada means doll.

An exclusive exhibition of her dolls was held at NBCLC convention hall here recently to portray, 'the images of people's life through the needle's eye'.

Sr Bosteels prefers to make dolls at night when it is all calm and quiet.

An immense appreciation from the visitors stating that these dolls convey the message of people's everyday life. These inanimate dolls speak through words as Sr Bosteels walks with them, talks with them and sings with them.

Dolls in life’s musings

As a child, Francoise loved to play with dolls like any other kid, only, she never even dreamt that she would reach a stage where dolls would make her life really worth and become an integral part of her life. She would dress and undress them, bathe and nurtur them and treasure each one of them in her childhood days.

During a personal interview I had with Francoise, she revealed her very interesting personal story saying, 'I was 16 when a sickness threatened my life and I was confined to bed for months. It was during this time that I started creating 'my own' little dolls with the material my mother provided me.'

'While struggling between life and death, I could sense the rhyme and rhythm of life screaming out from my heart into the dolls I created! Each doll I made became colourful and alive. They evoked experience and stories in my life’s musings. Thus they slowly grew into expressions of my playful imagination. Some found me lonely and they began to say, 'She speaks to her dolls, not to us!'

'I  found ‘treasures’ in my silent conversation with my ‘dolls’ and a learning process commenced, unaware, through endless imaginations, intuitions and dreams within me. I began to listen to the “cry”, “laughter’, “play” of life along with my dolls. My loneliness became solitude in my company with the dolls. In the womb of solitude a profound self-surrender to the mystery of life subtly welled up at the interior realms of my being,' she said in an emotional tone.

Years later, she was called to live her religious life in India. The simple way of village life fascinated her; little girls leading the sheep to the greens and mountain streams, women who deck their tresses with fragrant buds, children with scant resources fashioning things to play with, men who nurture trees and prune them, the flower-man on the bicycle; so have familiar sights such as women carrying vegetables in hand-made palm-leaf baskets and water in pots and jars, women learning to write their names or weaving bamboo baskets, men in the street corner ironing crumpled clothes or beating the drum in harmony with the earth around.

Her fascination became an aesthetic experience translated into dolls. She worked at night when everything was calm and peaceful. Then in the dark of the night she sought the secret of people’s pain and celebration through her dolls.  

Comment on this article

  • Cynthia Winton-Henry, United States

    Tue, Apr 8 2008

    These dolls have soul. they are imbued with prayer. At first so uncomplicated and then on closer look, truth in its complexity jumps at you. Thank you again Francoise, A supporter of your ongoing work. Cynthia

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  • marynaulak, guwahati

    Thu, Apr 3 2008

    I am glad the dolls of Sr. Bosteels continue to talk. I have nothing but great admiration for her and the best wishes for this work to continue.

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  • Allen Brooks, Guwahati-Assam

    Wed, Apr 2 2008

    Words fail to express my feelings,on how I was moved when I saw the dolls for the first time at B'lore.My passion over took me to invite to Assam and Meghalaya, belive me we were fortunate to have meet sister and seen her work and let the dolls speak to us.Doordarshan had done a half hour documentary on the dolls and it was telecasted in the North-East.

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  • Bernadette, Belgique

    Mon, Mar 31 2008

    Je ne me lasse jamais d'admirer tes personnages depuis 48 ans,quelle évolution!!! Grand bravo. Grande artiste. Grande créativité. Grand coup d'oeil dans le choix des coloris et l'observation du détail. Les messages à travers les superbes textes invitent à la réflexion. Merci Françoise pour tout cela. Uw zusje, Bernadette

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  • laurence, singapore

    Sun, Mar 30 2008

    Chere Francoise, Ta collection est splendide, quelle imagination tu continues a avoir apres tant d annees! C est super. Laurence & co

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  • Fr Thomas D'Sa, Bangalore

    Sun, Mar 30 2008

    The dolls speak volumes by their silence. The silenced ones could get their voice back through the medium of these dolls.

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  • WILMA, udupi

    Sat, Mar 29 2008

    Dear sister these dolls are cute, you have excellant talent.Keep it up.

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  • A.D'Cunha Shenoy, Mangaluru

    Sat, Mar 29 2008

    Real life, real dolls how one cannot describe and relate to these dolls. This is the most beautiful work of love Sr. Bosteels expresses in her own ways. This material is fit for a wonderful Museum of Art and culture and real life, what I mean to say is treasured life of Indians. God bless you sister. You are a great Treasur of India.

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  • iris samuel, mulki/bangalore

    Fri, Mar 28 2008

    Hi jessi great to see all this thank u so much putting an effort to do all this with all your heavy scheduled work really you are a great lady Ii can say. it looks so nice and really lovely.also let god give her more health and strentgh to do more and more. We will pray for her.thank you 

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  • Irene Crasto, Dubai

    Fri, Mar 28 2008

    Its wonderful and beautiful. Dear sister you have got the excellent talent. Keep it up. May God bless you.

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  • prescilla fernandes, mangalore

    Fri, Mar 28 2008

    Amazing dolls are just amazing.May the Almighty bless Gombe sister with good health.

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  • Sharmila , Mangalore

    Sun, Mar 30 2008

    What a Collection?I liked them very much.If I meet Sr Francoise Bosteels,I will surely take it from her.  I will learn how she did all of them.A VERY GOOD COLLECTION

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