My artist friend Raju Deshpande and I are just back from an art workshop we conducted for the residential primary school located in the Bhimashankar forest area, around 200 km away from Pune. ‘Vanadev’ school is a residential school with around 40 kids (from std. 1st to 4th) from Mahadev-Koli and Katkari tribes. It is a fantastic small school run by the social organization ‘Shashwat’, and is one of their many initiatives for the tribes in these parts. Shashwat is an organization of highly passionate people who really understand the ways of these tribes and have expert knowledge about the terrain.
Raju and I were quite excited about this workshop and were looking forward to spend a day exploring drawing, painting with these kids. When we arrived at the school we realized a very interesting aspect of the way the school is run. The teachers informed us that this workshop would not be mandatory for the kids, and the kids were free to opt out of the drawing exercises we conducted. I thought it was great that this freedom of choice was offered by the teachers to such a young age group. Thankfully almost 95% of the kids decided to participate, and that was good news for us :) Many of our participants were using the painting brush for the first time, but they picked up the skill fast and were soon coloring away with water based liquid colors on paper and were making graffiti on the wall. The paintings and drawings were very beautiful and diverse as you can see from the pictures in this post!
The kids were free to choose their subject and style. They drew ponds with floating lotuses and large fish like the typical sweet-water fish that are normally found in the lakes nearby. The kids painted houses with decorative doors very similar to the actual houses in the village, and they drew snakes, monkeys, peacocks and trees around these houses. Some unusual subjects like people travelling in small trucks with luggage loaded on top, or the mammoth wall of the dam also made an appearance in the paintings. All very beautiful and very colorful!
The kids enjoyed the workshop and so did we. It was very interesting to see how the kids translated their surroundings into their drawings. Here are pictures of some of the fun moments from the workshop. We will certainly be visiting our young friends again and hope to explore more art and ideas with them! :)