Thursday, 27 October 2016

Shared spaces

Pushpa's intuitive response when demonstrating a thread drawing technique.

A collaborative drawing project...

In parallel to the work I am undertaking with my Asialink residency hosts, Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, being in Delhi provides me with endless opportunities to enjoy a rich cultural experience. Over the last weeks I have had the privilege of finding myself in all sorts of shared spaces; engaging with others in homes, businesses, workshops, yoga classes, art talks, performances, beauty parlours, cars, autos, galleries, at heritage sites and on the street. Sometimes very confronting, often uplifting and always interesting.

This idea of the shared space resonates with a project I am developing for a group exhibition, Common Ground: The Serendipitous Happenstance Project curated by Helen Rayment, scheduled as a collateral event for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

I am collaborating with three others whose work I had seen and admired over recent years, Pushpa Kumari, Pradyumna Kumar, and Ishan Khosla. Our drawing project takes a cue from the title of the larger exhibition and seeks to create a landscape developed from the shared memories of the landscapes of our childhoods.

Photography Ishan Khosla

We have commenced weekly drawing workshops, initially depicting flora and fauna. Conversations veered between Hindi and English as the group share stories and memories of the diverse terrains of Bihar and Kochi in India and rural Gippsland in Australia.

A full day means lunch when we are joined by the designers and staff from Ishan’s studio. There is endless cups of tea, much good will and laughter with discussion around the differing techniques and styles that each individual’s training have fostered. Pushpa and Pradyumna have years of drawing within a tradition framework using ink on paper.  I originally trained in Graphic Design  and share an aesthetic and great interest in traditional crafts with Ishan.

The project is deceptively simple and teases out many ideas around ways of art making from divergent cultural traditions. I have been astounded at the ease with which we have developed shared understanding about our process and way forward ( even though I have no Hindi). The synthesising of very different drawing languages has progressed such that the last drawing was crafted with multiple artists working on the one image, to our great mutual delight! 

I am known for my boundless enthusiasm for conversation however one of the most delightful examples of shared space occurred within complete silence. I looked up from my drawing to see all four of us around the table completely engrossed in our work, magic!

A resolved artwork will be developed from the collective archive of drawings for exhibition at OED Gallery in Kochi, opening December 10th, 2016.

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