Art in progress

| Updated on February 13, 2020

A remote village in Kerala played host to an art camp that gave locals access to well-established names and works

Six years ago, the realisation that interior Kerala was largely deprived of the arts had spurred a few artists and enthusiasts to organise an art camp in Enkakkad village near Thrissur. Since then, this initiative — called Niracharthu — has become a much-awaited annual event among the villagers and the art fraternity.

True to its name, Niracharthu (creative sumptuousness) is now brimming with local talent. Enthusiastic children gather at the village every year in January to learn about the fundamentals of art from veteran artists. The focus is on expressions that are far removed from the colonial concept of ‘drawing’ — which is largely devoid of creativity but still prevalent in most government schools.

The highlight at this year’s camp was an exhibition of prints of artwork dating back from the time of cave paintings. Children had a separate camp of their own too. About 30 established artists from across India worked in public spaces in the village. The locals could interact with them and learn about their work, whether painting or sculpting or any other form of art.

Cultural events were arranged during the five days of the camp. Seminars, exhibitions, film and documentary screenings on Indian and world culture made the evenings lively and significant. Locals, including children from nearby villages, frequented the camp site and conversed with the participants and watched the cultural events. Expenses were met through the sale of artworks and coupons. The art created at the camp was later exhibited at the prestigious Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, Thrissur. The cultural body had also lent a mobile exhibition van to promote art at the camp.

Text by Vijayakumar Menon, Thrissur-based art historian; Images by Binu Bhaskar, Thrissur based freelance photographer

Published on February 13, 2020

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