The exhibition at Dakshina Chitra takes you on a wonderful journey through Time telling you stories all the while.

Alice entered Wonderland through a hole, how many of you would like to be curious for a while and enter a book? If you do then head to Dakshina Chitra's Art Gallery.

Titled “Once upon a time” — the exhibition is dedicated n to kids. It's a mapping of literature from past to present and consists of stories for children. As you enter your eye is drawn to the drawing of a teacher sitting under a huge tree narrating stories to his students. The exhibition revolves around four themes — girl child, inclusivity, languages and book as an art. Developed by nine art management students of the Arts Management Programme, Madras Craft Foundation, the exhibition is lively.

You begin your journey retracing art from the time before writing began. A time when stories were only told. As you move on you see drawings, paintings in their primitive form where only natural dyes were used. Some examples of the bygone era is a “Narrative panel”— A huge story represented through pictures. (Watch for the Story of the Titanic on a scroll, and Vishnu's ten avatars on a panel type cupboard).

There was a time when stories were never written. They were only told. Even morals that needed to be taught were woven into stories using nature, animals and human beings. Keep your eyes open for the Panchatantra which was written by sage and scholar Vishnu Sharma for a king who had three sons. The king wanted to educate his sons and Vishnu Sharma wrote out five discourses incorporating different strategies. The Talking Tortoise on display uses Kalamkari style. Each picture is on a different frame with arrows leading the way to the next till the end.

The tale of Chandarva the blue jackal has a variation and the artists have used a “Then and Now” concept using Warli, a western Indian tribal art form for the newer version and the pictures to depict the old.

Next in line are Jataka tales, regional folk tales from the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashta, Rajasthan and Nagaland.

As you come to the centre of the exhibition you will see a huge white tree and surrounding it are different stories on the girl child, inclusivity, stories in different languages. The tree uses different elements of style such as simple, funny, fast moving, rewarding etc to bring to light how a story is perceived.

The last section is a meeting point for different publishers from Katha, Chandamama, Tulika, Karadi, Tara, Children's Book Trust and National Book Trust speak about their journey.

Once Upon A Time at the Art Gallery, Dakshina Chitra is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. till January 31.

Tuesday is a holiday.

Keywords: Dakshina Chitra

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