Ritika Betala from Good Homes magazine contacted me recently regarding an event. It was a workshop hosted by Good Homes magazine for their Art Week 2015 (26th -30th October 2015)
Her mail said, “The workshop will be hosted at Asian Paints store at Bandra Hill Road which will have in attendance Ms Shibani Jain from Baaya Designs along with an artisan expert in traditional art forms. They will talk a little bit about stories behind these art forms which is passed on from their ancestors. The artist himself will also be narrating the history of his family tradition, etc.”
It also said, “The session will be very culturally intriguing and you will also be given an opportunity to paint a traditional art form on a canvas whilst learning about the history of the art. After the session, the paintings will collectively be displayed at Carter Road as part of an installation at Good Homes for Art from 28th-30th Oct.”
At the event: The event started at 5 since the organisers were waiting for the bloggers to arrive. When it began, Shibani Jain addressed us introducing Baaya Design as well as the event and the artist of the day. She said, “There are over 70 varieties of art across India. Many of them are being customized for interiors and accessories. We at Baaya Design are helping them to be used in a unique way. There have been so many developments in the world. But the artisans and their traditions have remained where they were. Baaya Design is trying to bridge the gap and produce a meaningful meeting point of art, tradition and development.”
She added, “When I meet art students I ask them, why they don’t use Indian traditional art in their work. They say that they don’t know any of them. And that is the tragedy in the education scene today. I now invite you to be curious about what we have and give the same to the others. Invite the art into your lives. We need to be proud of our art. No other country in the world has this variety and richness in art. With this I hand you over to Bengadeji for you to know about Warli paintings and teach you some basics.”
With that the artist began his talk about his traditional artworks. He said, “These paintings are traditional works by women folk from the Warli tribal areas in the mountains and coastal areas in the border between Maharashtra and Gujarat. Traditionally, these women would paint the walls of their houses with stories, which are sung by other women sitting nearby. These works were made during marriages and other special occasions. They used sticks and rice paste as tools and paint for the work. I would like also hasten to say that the rice paste has not been made from flour taken from any flour mill. There is a proper method for making it.”
He added, “I have been making these paintings for the last 22 years. But I am still learning. There are figure drawings in this type of painting. But there is always a story and a deep meaning to them.”
But now from what I saw Warli men were also taking to this art. So that was my first question to him.
He replied, “Women of our community do not go out of the villages. Thus if like in this situation, someone from outside wanted us to do some of our art for them, we men have to take over. From my childhood, I have been watching our women make images out of different stories. Slowly even I learnt their art.”
My second question was how they actually make the rice paste. Even some South Indians from Tamil Nadu traditionally made rangolis from rice paste. Therefore, I was curious to know if the Warli method was similar.
He explained the process thus, “We soak rice in water overnight and dry it the next day in the sun. Again we thoroughly mix it with water, grind and filter it. The filtrate is used as paint for the art works.”
After his talk, a canvas with brown paint on it representing the Warli home walls was brought in front of us and he started painting. We all took hints from the designs he was painting and did our thing on smaller canvases, which as Ritika had said was displayed nearby. They were also planning a session with Moms and their children.