Local Lives, Local Colours

It was a return to their nursery years. Their children would have been impressed. At two in the afternoon, the women of the textile group were seen colouring checks and cutting coloured paper.

All these were part of a session conducted to train them in skills of abstraction and thinking out of the box. The session comprised two exercises. In the first, the women coloured a sixteen checked square with colours that they thought best represented Diwali. They were also advised to organize the composition. The participants selected the choicest colours from an array of crayons, pencils and sketch-pens. Most were able to tap into their imagination to fulfil the brief given to them. The bland checks had exploded into brilliant Rangoli patterns and colours representing fire crackers, sweets and pollution.

Kshitija Kanbur, coordinator at Dekha Undekha and an aspiring chef, who conducted the session, hopes that this exercise will sensitize these tailor-women towards a sense of colour. She explains, “This exercise is based on theories of colour and really tests the creative faculty. The participants have been bound by certain restrictions such as sixteen squares and a theme.” Bound by instruction, released by imagination.

The second exercise expected the participants to interrogate that old question named love. Using limited material, the women had to cut out shapes and stick them onto paper and thereby communicate what love meant to them. The women were not very successful at this exercise as most of them made direct representations of things they loved.

The coordinators and the consultants had decided on this session based on feedback from the workshop where it was noticed that the participants faced blocks with abstract thinking. Kshitija Kanbur thinks further sessions will help the women in this direction. Every Art Engagement is a new challenge for every person here!

Shown below are four pieces of artwork from this session:

Mahananda’s square shows the colours arranged in the pattern of a Rangoli. The things she loves best are flowers and tailoring.






Afreen’s checks are an arrangement of colours that represent diyas, firecrackers, red sarees and sweets. She loves to sing, and therefore the mike cutout.






Sumaiya has chosen double shades of colours to show the luminous layers of a flame. And her cutout is a hair straightener! Guess what she loves?






Parveen has left a check blank to show how clean the air is before diwali and how it blackens due to air pollution. She has also chosen a patch of lavender to show how she finds solace in the sea.





Oh yes, they all love flowers!

2 responses to “Local Lives, Local Colours

  1. Wonderful initiative and such inspired art works– congrats!
    I am a visual artist based in Mumbai and have recently started conducting art related workshops for various institutions. I would like to offer my services to your group in this context. To get an idea about my work please log on to my website. The very best, Bharati

    • Thank you Bharati! Your website is such a delight, we specially liked your tribute to cinema. As of now, we have reached the maximum limit for the number of artists onboard for this project. But, we shall definitely keep you in mind for any of our future ventures. All the best! 🙂

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