With colours as rich and layered as its mythology, the epic mural artwork titled ‘Parayi Peta Pantheerukulam’ by artist P.K. Sadanandan has turned heads and prompted questions over the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).
It will now inspire the same from students of Aided Mappila Upper Primary School (AMUPS) in Malappuram District. An image of a section of the wall art – illustrating the story of ‘Naranth Pranthan’ – will adorn the cover of a notebook to be distributed to 2,000 students at the school.
The diary, designed by Art by Children (ABC) – the unique art education initiative by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, was released on Saturday at the Pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi. The function saw Sadanandan hand the first copy to an AMUPS student.
“Promoting art education, at a number of levels, has become one of the Foundation’s primary concerns. Launching a specially designed notebook cover is an engaging way to attract students and make them aware about art practices,” said KBF Secretary Riyas Komu at the function.
While some schools already bring out similar books, the pictures are limited to annual day gatherings or committee meetings, said Manu Jose, who heads the ABC programme.
“Every student today goes through a minimum of seven notebooks. If we print different artworks and introduce different artists through such books, that is a considerable art education effort. We can even introduce artists according to age groups,” Jose said.
Inside the book’s front jacket is a short biography about Sadanandan while the rear cover has an image of the wall art’s evolution over KMB 2016. The artist said that the initiative is a novel way to get children to engage with both the practice of mural painting and traditional stories.
“During my childhood, we would hear moralistic stories from our grandmothers or learn them in school. The narrations ignited the visual sense in us. Such practices have vanished, but the stories like Parayi Peta Pantheerukulam and their characters are significant even now. It is said that these 12 creeds encompass the whole of humankind and show how harmoniously they lived. Such stories should be taught to children to bring social integrity,” Sadanandan said.
“There is a reason for choosing the Naranath Pranthan story for the cover image as he crossed set boundaries and borders without caring about what people thought of him. Moreover, he was a philosopher. Children should know of him and learn about him,” he added.
The initiative reflects the continuing relationship between AMUPS and the ABC project, which conducted the first of its innovative art engagement workshops at the school in November.
Noting that the notebooks would be circulated to students
from classes 1-7, AMUPS Headmaster T. Gopalakrishnan said, “This specially designed book will be a diary for the students, in which year-long activities and holidays will be listed. This will prompt the students to refer to the book for at least one year if not longer.”
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