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A mural touch

NOT A FLY ON THE WALL: A workshop in progress

NOT A FLY ON THE WALL: A workshop in progress  

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It does not matter if you have never picked up a painting brush in your life, you can still learn Kerala Mural painting thanks to workshops brought to the city by Gautham and Anuradha Sarang from Palakkad

A constant on any city’s activity calendar is workshops. Cookery, origami, quilling, painting... these are some standard subjects for workshops which never go out of fashion. But these days, a very unique workshop is being conducted. A workshop on Kerala mural painting is being hosted by Anuradha and Gautham Sarang from Palakkad. They have been bringing it to Bengaluru since February this year when they hosted the first basic level course. They bring along Sasi Edavarad, a master muralist from Kozhikode to conduct these workshops.

At the United Theological College , the trio are currently hosting another of their basic level course, Praveshika, in which the participants are taught basic elements such as Alankara (designs) Bhooshana (ornamentation) Prakruthi (elements of nature) Thalamana (proportions of figures) and Varnayojana (basic painting and shading techniques). And contrary to what you would think, one doesn’t need to have an art background. “The objective is not to churn out master muralists but to make one aware of the tradition and appreciate it. Of course if participants continue different levels of our workshops, they can become professionals. But otherwise if someone can just appreciate its aesthetics, identify an element of it, it is good enough. There is nothing better than storing these art practices in people,” says Gautham.

What is Sashi's approach to such short duration courses being attended by people from different backgrounds? “Unlike crash courses, there is no tracing involved and through repeated practise the figures become familiar to the hand and mind. Presentations on the history of mural painting in India with rare photographs and discussions on the stories, aesthetics and spiritual iconography of the art are included in the curriculum to make it comprehensive. Dhyanashlokas, the hymns on which traditional murals were based upon are also touched upon as is contemporisation of the art,” explains the senior artist.

He adds that to give a sense of achievement a small canvas is finished during the workshop which gives the participants confidence to delve deeper into the subject. Simplified teaching techniques are used. Traditionally on the wall, the painting is begun directly with the brush without a pencil sketch, but in the workshop, you start with pencil and each element is practised with help of grids or circles before moving on to freehand sketching. Freelance content and web developers, Gautham and Anuradha were once associated with a cultural centre in Palakkad, run by a French lady.

When it shut down, they started one of their own. It ran for three years and closed down with the couple deciding to take the art to people instead of people coming to it. “It would be easier and more viable we thought. Why add to environmental mess by creating another building and other paraphernalia associated with it. When there is infrastructure already in place why not make use of it,” expresses Gautham.

So, almost every month the duo with their three children and Sashi travel to Bengaluru, which has responded positively to these niche workshops. “About 100-150 people have attended the workshops. We had a one-day workshop at Atta-Galatta which had about 32 participants, a mixed group there were people who picked up a brush for the first time as well as professional artists,” explains Gautham, who wants to focus on Kerala mural painting workshops for a year and take it other cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

(The fee for these workshops range from Rs.500 to Rs.12,000. For more details visit www.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 12:51:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/A-mural-touch/article14628522.ece

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