We are just done with a Gond Workshop. This one followed the Weaving Workshop by Pratiksha Morankar which was satisfying to speak the least. This was the first one of its kind in that we invited a native artist coming from rural areas of a state of India, this one being Madhya Pradesh.
I am still too overwhelmed with a lot of things I learnt myself, and I have to pen it down before I forget.
I got to talk a lot with Surendra, who’s the artist who conducted the workshop. I did read about the art and the origins but hearing it from the horse’s mouth is another experience. The beauty lies in the way they explain it in their own language which is Hindi here but they have their regional diction, and nothing can feel more original. (Gosh, I should have recorded it! )
Surendra Tekam - In preparation for the workshop.
Very interestingly Gond from Madhya Pradesh, Warli from Maharashtra, Pattachitra are ways of visual storytelling.
Surendra told me how their ancestors used to draw art on huts and fill with natural colors they made out of leaves, flowers, turmeric et al. And these drawings were a story they wanted to tell, say a regular day in their lives, or a fishing experience. Marriage and celebrations also had Gond Art as a part of their decor! This art then was practiced on fabric but eventually, and understandably - using natural colors on fabric was not sustainable for these people who had very limited sources of making enough money for a living. Farming is also a major occupation for these artists.
Visual Storytelling - A Fishing Experience
A regular day for the people
The Gond Art we see today is actually art which has evolved to preserve the style, make it sustainable for the artist where in they use synthetic colors and paper and yet bring out the bespoke beauty of the art form.
The modern day paintings as I see it captures the flora and fauna of the region in their stylised strokes.
Modern day paintings
What I wrote so far were facts, but I don’t mind getting a bit candid in spelling out the emotional experience of this whole exercise. One of our main mottos is to spread awareness about different art forms and we are really taking baby steps. We had 12 candidates register after a whole month of marketing, and that really paid off in that they could really feel the hard work that goes into making even the simplest painting Surendra and I decided upon. Some said it was “Cathartic”, some “it’s an immersive experience”, some - “thanks for doing this for us”. We know how it feels when we hear these from people we organise something for.
The painting we worked on
Most of them made purchases perhaps because they felt the effort and the beauty of any product increases manifold once you realize the labor that goes in making it.
And secondly, Surendra who comes from a rural background was very grateful that we organised this and it worked out well for him and his family. He was too humble, I tried my best to make him realise it is his talent that has worked out for him, and we are just a medium. And yeah, this is also one of our missions - to provide a platform to the unheard of talented artists and support them in the best way we can.
The next workshop is a Kalamkari (An art style from Andhra Pradesh, India) workshop where we have invited an artist from Srikalahasthi of Chittoor district. Who knows how many will show up for this, but all we know is we will do our best, treat every event as the final goal and work for it, celebrate it!
Immersed Participants at the studio
Happy at the end of the day - With Surendra Tekam - We spoke more and more over dinner at our residence. I did not want this to end!