The camp on traditional art at the Madura College brought people closer to nature.

It was an art camp with a difference, where everything turned out to be spontaneous. Playing with clay was no more a messy affair here, as everyone laid their hands to communicate through pictorial depictions.

“We are not here to show our artistic prowess,” says V. Dakshinamurthy, advisor, Natural Resource Management for a Delhi-based company and the resource person for the workshop. “Art is in everyone. In the name of evolution and education, we curb our natural instincts and subject ourselves to immense stress,” he says.

An expert in rock and tribal art, Dakshinamurthy’s main objective is to promote candid art and strike a balance between man and his environment. “What we miss today is the creative expression of the child,” he says. “In our childhood we reacted spontaneously without much of a thought. But as we grow we move towards education, work and career, conveniently suppressing our instincts. Also we are in a dilemma whether to go by our instincts,” he says.

In association with his wife Kalyani, he has started Siragu Viri (spread your wings), an initiative to appreciate nature and explore creativity. “We started this forum as we felt there was a need for art education in schools and colleges,” he says. He has travelled in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra.

“Whenever we get free time we visit educational institutions to stress on the need for creativity. We also educate teachers.”

He uses only natural colours that bring back the primordial memories. “The originality in the linear art has to be appreciated,” he says. “If you look at the pre-historic art you will understand how knowledgeable our ancestors were. Their use of colours speaks volumes about their understanding of the canvas. They have used red and white ochre depending upon the colour of the rocks,” he explains.

Dakshinamurthy voices his concern about modern-day children who are more interested in watching their favourite cartoon characters on television screens than in playing outdoors. “We have forgotten to appreciate the beauty of nature,” he says. “Art is just a tool to attract the children to spend time in the company of nature.”

There are around 57 rock art sites in the state, many in the districts of Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Madurai, Krishnagiri, Dindigul and Vellore, and there are more than 800 sites all over the country, he says and adds that art was once the universal language as experts deciphered similar rock art works in different countries.

“Art also has a convergence point,” he says. “Maybe the style is different. But the form is similar. For example, the palm print, hunter gatherer community, wildlife and people dancing together are some of the popular subjects of this art form,” he says.

He explained how tribal art came into being, citing examples of Worli art, and said that each tribe developed its own unique style. Tribal art, he points out, is a living and changing form. “Modern-day Kalamkari and Thanjavur art forms are different manifestations of tribal art,” he says.

Connecting with nature has been Dakshinamurthy’s main focus, and in this camp he introduced the children to what he calls Eco art, teaching them how they can make use of available natural resources to decorate home spaces.

“Art is not a complicated thing as one perceives it to be,” says R. Murali, Principal, Madura College. “It is just another tool for expression. Once children understand this they can be more responsible,” he says. Murali also has plans to dedicate an exclusive space for his students to express their artistic talent.

“Traditionally,” says Dakshinamurthy, “art is part of our life. But we are looking at it only within the frame. We forget to see art outside. Through this eco art we are trying re-establish that emotional bonding between man and land. Once a person touches and gets the feel of the texture of the soil he or she will cause little damage to nature.”