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Art Room for Children Opens at Biennale Venue to Nurture Young Talents

In Kochi
January 01, 2019

The Kochi Biennale Foundation invoked the spirit of prodigious Kerala artist Edmund Thomas Clint (1976-83) today and launched an innovative programme that grooms young talents while encouraging their societal interaction.

Named ‘art room’, the experimental space at Cabral Yard got activated with schoolchildren drawing and painting after K J Maxi, Member of Legislative Assembly representing Kochi, inaugurated the project that will run even after the conclusion of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) on March 29 next year.

Fort Kochi’s leafy 1.6-acre Cabral Yard, which is one of the ten venues of KMB 2018 that began on December 12, thus got a semi-open rectangular area that will function as an art nursery. It will primarily benefit students between classes five and eight participating under the Foundation’s Art By Children (ABC) programme which offers resources and guidance for artistic experimentation.

Well-known artist Bose Krishnamachari, who is president of the Foundation that is organising the 108-day Biennale, recalled that Kochiite Clint had come up with more than 25,000 artworks before his death as a six-year-old. “Clint’s father and mother felt inspired to save (a chunk of) those paintings and drawings,” he noted. “It shows the responsibility of a father and mother in grooming the artistic talent of their child.”

The Biennale, into its fourth edition, will have ‘art rooms’ where trained art teachers work as ‘facilitators’ for children to create studio spaces and interact between themselves. It will also feature workshops by experts from within Kerala and outside, while some of ten schools under the ABC are to open art rooms back on their campus.

Anita Dube, curator of KMB 2018, joined the children at the art room that exhibits works by school students. “Amazing,” she summed up on seeing the paintings that themed invariably on nature. The first batch of school students at the art room were from Gothuruth, a heritage costal village 40 km north of Kochi that is returning to normalcy after the floods of August this year.

MLA Maxi, addressing the gathering at the Biennale Pavilion, said KMB being a global platform provides children the “best exposure” to art. “If art is about lighting up minds and kindling social reforms, then this programme has got the right target,” he added.

Zeenath Rasheed, councillor of the local civic body, said the leafy Cabral Yard is an “ideal location” for children to enrich their artistic capabilities.

Blaise Joseph, Programme Manager of ABC, said adults too can make use of the art room. “There is no age bar, actually. Anyone interested can come in and work,” he said. “It’s a place where you can draw and paint with a free spirit, fearlessly.”

As a pioneering learning initiative under the Foundation, ABC aims at an inclusive approach to arts education. As a prelude to its implementation, the Foundation had organised a three-day residential workshop for artist facilitators last month. They had also been undergoing a series of intensive pre-programme sessions.