While using ice on her kitchen table, Parvathi Nayar noticed that as it melted, it moved around performing this lovely ballet. She decided to film these cubes of ice, but also realised that while she was doing this, there was a glacier melting in the real world somewhere. She referenced these images as an ocean in every kitchen.I often say that Im not an activist artist, says Nayar. I try to communicate things through the poetry of an image or through the depth of an idea. Conservation is inherent and implicit in that. Theres certainly awareness and interest, and after adopting my daughter, an increasing desire to leave a world thats sustainable. And when there is depth in an idea, it all comes together. I dont very often push it and it comes out in an organic way through the art.She doesnt believe that art has to have a message or has to justify itself, but it needs to be a product of her time and thinking. I do care about water. The origin of water, the idea that they may somehow have come to earth along with meteorites excites me. Also, the fact that we live on a planet thats largely water-based, our bodies are made up of water, we need water to survive, the sound of water is so meditative It also brings together my love for both art and science while exploring a hot-button topic of our times.She recalls a recent set of artworks shes created centering around the quintessential rain song in Bollywood. Songs like O Sajna Barkha Bahaar Aayi or Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua Hai were originally a beautiful way of showing man and woman in harmony with nature. I feel it has become this abased idea now, with the intent to show skin, but at one point it was a beautiful way to describe nature.This, she says, is very different from another piece of work, such as a Trash Kolam that she created. From a market perspective, it may not work. But Im someone who likes multiple engagements from the world. I feel that we should inhabit it in a way that leaves something for the future generations, but is also pleasurable. Also, nobody likes being told what to do. With my art, Im not telling people what to do. Rather, Im putting forward a proposition.Despite a Masters in Fine Art from Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London (on a Chevening Scholarship no less!), Nayar wasnt always an artist. For the longest time, she lived in Singapore and was a journalist of some repute writing about the arts. I had to put food on my table and I wasnt looking to be a commercial artist. I was conscious that I had a good life, so it wasnt a push factor, but a pull factor. The epiphany came during one of my interviews when the interviewee gave me some sound advice. He said at the end of my life, I would not regret doing things, but instead, regret what I hadnt done. I needed to hear this at the time. I decided to give up my life in Singapore, return to India, set up a studio, become an artist full-time and adopt a daughter as well.Her works have appeared at many significant solo and group shows and venues around the world, including the Kochi Muziris Biennale, The Chennai Photo Biennale, the CPB Biennale (Jakarta), the Singapore Art Museum and the We Are Ocean programmes in Europe. Her 20-foot-high 3D drawing A Story of Flight was displayed at the Mumbai International Airport. She does admit that art does pay the bill to some extent, but a lot of artists would do other things as she did for a long time to pay the bills. Its the top 5 percent that get 95 percent of the income in the art world. Real creativity comes from passion rather than the demands of the market. When an artist says I wont do a vertical work because it doesnt sit well over somebodys living room sofa, that isnt the primary reason to make it. However, Im not saying one has to dismiss commercials entirely. Its a fine line. Certainly, you must look after yourself and get what you deserve, but commerce isnt the only reason to enter the arts.This year was also special because her installation BreatheWater was displayed above a public walkway at Singapores prestigious Esplanade arts centre. Installed in three giant conical structures and 21-feet high, the installation focussed on diatoms, microscopic organisms found in the oceans. It was very nice to go back to Singapore with a major art installation. When they approached me, they asked me to use the theme of water as my base and build on that. I had drawn these diatoms, and always wondered what they would look like in 3D. It was a delight to have a team who would fabricate them I just had to sketch. Although it got stalled a bit because of the pandemic, we finally exhibited it. We also made discoveries along the way. For instance, though it was not meant to be a kinetic piece, if a lot of people walked, it would move. I also loved the fact that it gave visual expression to the fact that the ocean gives us 60 percent of the oxygen that we breathe through these diatoms.She also created a photography-video-text installation called Chicken Run with her niece Nayanthara for the Chennai Photo Biennale this year. Although Nayar is well-established now, having showcased within India and internationally for over two decades, she has formulated an exit plan, where I wouldnt be able to afford cake necessarily, but I could put bread on the table.While shes always enjoyed writing columns and features, her writing repertoire of late has grown to include poetry and fiction. Her fiction writing was published among The Best Asian Short Stories 2021 by Kitaab and shortlisted for The Bombay Review Creative Writing Award 2021. Shes also co-authored 15 Tables at TranQuebar a novel of interlinked short stories with four other women writers and is currently working on a novel of conceptually-connected stories. Ive always loved words and I wish I could have a perfect world in which I could write more. It is difficult. You know, people would tell me things like the characters will talk to you, and I would roll my eyes. But when I started writing, I realised they actually! They have a trajectory of their own. It took a while to get to fiction because my daughter was very little initially. As she grew up, I found little windows of time.Her advice to her thirteen-year-old daughter is it doesnt matter whether youre a hairdresser, an astrophysicist, or anything else. Do it well. For women as a collective, she says, Make the time to do what you want to do. Life will always get in the way, and the essentials will somehow get done. But if you wait for the right time to do the things that make you happy, and keep postponing it, its likely to remain incomplete.