Goa welcomed me with its light, warm air and the various shades of green that carpeted over walls, streets and rooftops, as it happens every year once the rain has fallen. Everything comes alive; the smell of wet earth and new leaves, insects and animal life all set off to this new beginning. During my time in Goa, the seasons were a blur. The post-monsoon heat swung back into what felt like a never-ending monsoon.
Within the studio itself, a nature table became an unlikely centerpiece almost as an extension of all the action that we were experiencing outside. I adopted the idea of having a nature table in the studio from the Waldorf System. I constantly reintegrated the need and made it a priority for kids to notice the beauty in all aspects nature. The idea was to begin to be aware of things around us, notice patterns, find a rhythm and bring parts of it into our space.
Children would pick things on their walk to class, I’d add a thing or two and pretty soon we had a motley collection of beautiful things in various stages of life and decay. This collection of treasures from the outdoors set the tone. This space became a lab for some of the children who wanted to watch how various objects in nature transformed over time. They were keen to notice changes in colour, form, texture, smell etc., over the weeks. For some it was an excuse to go on walks outside of the class.
Being in the lush settings of Goa, so close to nature, and being able to experience change as it was happening, I felt that celebrating that uniqueness in, and the process of transformation would be a good focal point.
I decided this would be the basis for my interaction with the children, and a starting point of sorts, for the month-long workshop session in Goa. It’s important to honor all that is growing and dying around and within you, I felt. And in surprising ways within and without the workshop setting, my time in Goa has really driven that truth home.
Follow Drawing Room on facebook for more updates and my experiences with teaching art.
Certain experiences manifest as blessings and one such experience last year was my trip to Varanasi. It was my first time visiting the Ganges, and as I walked by the side of the river for the first time, everything seemed still, yet charming and timeless. The morning was foggy and cold, the winter light came through the clouds greeting the river and the massive flocks of migratory birds flying really low around, all the boatmen played before my eyes like a scene from a film.
As I walked from one ghat to the next, taking in all that I possibly could, I was drawn to an old man sitting by this boat, and instantly knew he had a story to tell me. Banwari Lal, looked at me and asked if I would like to go across the river and offered to take me in his neatly painted green and yellow boat.
Dressed in a blue and white checked lungi and a brown jacket/coat Banwari Lal gently maneuvered this boat and brought it to shore. Asking me to step in slowly while it rocked and lapped in the river. He was such a gentleman and as he pulled the oars of his boat he told me about his relationship with his boats that have stayed on the banks of the Ganga at Prabhu Ghat for the last 32 years. He and his boats have crossed the river, floated back and forth from one bank to the other, witnessing the transforming life of people and moments that pass through the ghats, year after year.
He told me how every season he witnesses new changes, makes a few friends some of them re-visit while some don’t, but he and his boats remain a constant. He told me how he is driven by the art of rowing and that is what has kept him going. He continues to manually row his boat, despite the fact that many boats are now motorized. Banwari Lal chooses to continue to row through his journey with grace.
Varanasi – December, 2014.
Cult Of the street. Open shop barbershop.
Part 2 of Cult of the street:
Barbers shops speak of beautification of the body, sexuality, male power, and vanity depicted through the curiosity as an on-looker/passer by, to something that is considered to be otherwise private. This is where i began exploring the rich traditions of the Naayi /Hajaam’s of Mumbai city.
My exploration led to representations of what I saw, in a mix of different mediums.Through photographs, drawings, video and sound installation.
Tools of the Trade. from Niyati Upadhya on Vimeo.
In the arsenal of your average Naayi: Blade clippers, trimmers, shears, razors for styling, straight razors, clipper combs: for all-purpose cutting and tapering, for free-hand clipper and clipper-over-comb work, to create outlines and trim beards; to cut, layer, thin, blend, shave. Brushes – round, paddle, vent, combs, oil, gels, foams, mousses, spray bottles, curling irons, blow driers…The stories of the barber are sometimes poetic, sometimes dark, and always poignant.