Amid a substantive display of art from across the globe, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a doubling as an event that promotes study and research on the subject for the younger generation. Come 2019, and the organisers of the 108-day festival are hosting a series of workshops that will go by unconventional ways to educate budding painters and sculptors, while making art even more accessible to the public at large.
The Kochi Biennale Foundation’s ABC (Art By Children) programme has its ‘art room’ at the green Cabral Yard venue, where masters will resort to out-of-the-box techniques while training on different crafts. “The techniques include murals, water-colour, calligraphy, story-writing, storytelling, sculpture, puppetry, illustration, installation and even performances besides a set of art forms that are associated with the culture of a region or people,” points out Blaise Joseph, programme coordinator of ABC. “All the workshops are for free.”
The key objective of the art room is to unite the people and promote a culture of sharing. The idea is to make art inclusive for everyone and make it an interactive educational tool. “We let children and adults create a non-judgmental space where they can participate without inhibition. We have already seen a lot of adults at our Cabral Yard workshops,” notes Blaise, an alumnus of MS University, Baroda.
The first week of the New Year will see Cabral Yard hosting a workshop of Gond art that has storytelling integral to it. To be led by Subhash Singh and Durgabai Vyam, who have their joined artwork on display at the Biennale’s main Aspinwall House venue, this three-day training will begin on January 3. The Gonds are one of India’s biggest tribes and inhabitants of the country’s central part — largely in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
The Gond art session will be followed by a four-day workshop on wildlife drawing and painting of murals. This, from January 6 to 9, will be led by artist Nandan P V. From January 8, there will be a two-day drawing and painting workshop on bird sanctuary by artist Sunil Vallarpadom.
The other workshops for the rest of the month are on ‘Art-making through storytelling, sculpture, installation and performance’ (Jan 11-13 by Hariprasad R), ‘Calligraphy’ (Jan 14-16 by Bryan Mulvihill), Water-colour painting’ (Jan 18-19 by Sunil Linus De), ‘Story-writing, storytelling and illustration’ (Jan 22-24 by Venki) and ‘Pavakoothu’ shadow puppetry (Jan 25-27 by Ramachandra Pulavar).
None of these art workshops will be traditional in their teaching methods, points out Blaise. “The masters are those always working with children, capable of smooth communication. They will facilitate exploration of the inner realities of the art, and help the kids express spontaneously with materials available from the surroundings,” he adds. “We give priority to interactive sessions and non-competitive games that free the participants from rigidities and fears.”
The ABC, ultimately, aims to bring an updated art culture among children. “We are looking at establishing permanent art rooms in schools, letting students explore their own creativity and give an outlet to expressions,” Blaise says. “Art plays a major role in shaping individuals. That means, children hold the key to a better society.
Apart from this, ABC is conducting various art programmes, free of cost, with schools across the state. “We hope more students join in,” Blaise adds. “We want people to come and share their craft so as to make it an interactive space.”