A book store cum an art gallery is what Quill And Canvas is all about. When you walk in, if on the one side you see books, then the other side is full of artwork. I am yet to come across a store that does both. A pretty niche concept, I must say. It is like a one-stop shop for someone who loves both. You can pick up a book of your choice, and you gaze at the beautiful pieces of art around you.
Such a unique concept has to be the brainchild of someone who is a book lover and an art lover. Not only that, the person has to be equally passionate about the two. And that is what Shobha Sengupta is.
A journalist by profession, she got into art curation pretty early in life. She reached a stage where she knew that she wanted to follow both her passions, which led to what we know as Quill And Canvas.
She set up the store, a small set up in 2002 in Galleria Gurgaon. Gradually people got to know about it. It became popular, and Shobha was able to move to a bigger place, and by the time I moved to Gurgaon in 2009, it had become a well-known store. I was on the lookout for a good book store, and my friend introduced me to it.
I still remember my first visit. I entered and was immediately struck by the warmth and the cosiness of the place. It wasn’t a huge place, but there were books and books everywhere. There was a calm and relaxed air about the place as if time had come to a standstill. You could look at the books in peace with nobody breathing down your neck, pushing you to hurry up and be done. Shobha and Darius were the only two people, if I remember correctly, who managed the store. They always greeted you with a smile and were full of recommendations and suggestions. They were willing to spend time with you and understand your requirements. You could browse to your heart’s content, and if you needed a change, you could feast your eyes on the artwork hanging on the walls.
Another thing that impressed me was the way the books were packed and handed over. They had these bags made from old newspapers, and the bag’s handle was a used ribbon or a rope. Those were the days when the environment, sustainability were not such big issues. Very few commercial ventures cared about such things, but Quill And Canvas was one of them.
And then, in 2013, they moved to South Point Mall, a much larger space.
With more space at their disposal, they can do much more. Along with more room for the art, there are many more things that are being done. Shobha regularly organises book and art-related events, book launches, discussions and author interactions. They also have a book club where they discuss popular books. Another innovative interaction is the Poetry Circle, where they invite poets to read their poetry. Over the years, I have attended several such events here, including art workshops with my younger one.
A concept like Shobha’s makes you believe that being unique and different from the run-of-the-mill is always a good idea. Not only does it help you to stand out, but it also helps you to survive and sustain yourself.
If you are either a bibliophile or an art lover or both and are in this part of the Delhi NCR, don’t miss visiting Quill And Canvas.