Ektara is a school located in a very poor part of Kolkata. It is nearby a waterway, a river or canal, on the banks of which is so much activity, such as rubbish sorting and car/auto rickshaw repairs. Work that is not pretty, and lives are lived in tight spaces with little beauty around to soften the hardship most people here seem to live with. The school is an oasis. Bright, Airy, and offering education to children and training to women.
We ran an after school session here with a group of young students from the school and surrounds in collaboration with our friend and colleague Maura Hurley. Maura lives in Kolkata and runs a number of programs to introduce and encourage arts practice in children.
I like to show the Aboriginal x-ray paintings as a way to open children’s (and teachers) eyes, imagination and worlds to new experiences, different cultures and ways of seeing. The x-ray paintings are wonderful in so many ways – the way the animals are placed on the bark page, the colours, the patterns; the artists expression of seeing both inside and outside at the same time. For these children, it is a totally unknown concept.
After we look at and discuss the paintings, children are invited to work in groups to create their own artworks using some of the ideas in these paintings : such as including the spine, some internal organs, and including pattern in their design. They can choose their own animal and are encouraged to draw big.
It is a very challenging project for them. Most are used to drawing in a very stylised way – a residue of their limited access to art as part of their formal education. We were impressed at each group’s ability to take on the challenge, to design and create these wonderful artworks. At times during the afternoon some were a little puzzled by the style of the work, some found it hard to grasp that at drawing in this style could be ‘good’, and others took a little while to accept that we can draw a peacock without using blue!
Along the way, we stopped to look at the artworks and decide what might be needed to bring life and ZING! to them.
After drawing them with oil pastels, we added a layer of water colour to complete the works.
As you can see in these group photos, the end results far exceeded the expectations of their makers. They were so delighted in the results and their own ability to try something new. We thought they did a terrific job and we would love the opportunity to create more art with them.
This project is only possible through the generous donations of our supporters and us who provide most of the funds for Make Do Tell. We need money to continue this project. We are asking you to donate – maybe you can pledge a small amount per month … can you? donate here Thank you! Anne and Alex.