Jamshedpur, Nov 18: Artists from tribal communities across India have come together to bring to life seven canvases depicting the tribal way of India at the tribal conclave Samvaad.
This year Samvaad is hosting the first-ever Artisans’ Residency, which brings alive canvases by 25 tribal artistic geniuses from across India. Under this, plan is to paint 7 canvases, which will be an amalgamation of 12 tribal art forms. The event not only marks making of these unique pieces but also provide an opportunity to interact with the artists and collaborate to explore opportunities for providing platform to these artists and their art forms.
The artisans through their individual group works mainly portrayed role of nature in their lives and how its preservation is vital for a sustainable future. The artists represent various tribes from states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Jharkhand, Ladakh, Gujarat among other. Tribes from Oraon, Juang, Gond, Warli among other communities are taking part in the camp which will continue till November 22.
Lado Bai, an artist representing Bhil tribe from Madhya Pradesh explained that the community does ritualistic murals of god Pithora. “I have been doing this art since my childhood and was inspired by the stories told to me by the elders, and this made me believe that god will be pleased by this Art. Each painting has some stories to tell,” she said.
For Lado, it wasn’t a smooth journey. She started working as a labourer at the age of 12. Her life turned when she was discovered by the famous Indian artist Jagdish Swaminathan, who encouraged her to work for the Adivasi Lok Kala Academy where she had the opportunity to do images of festivals, rituals and animals from wall to paper. Her work has been showcased in various exhibitions in India, France and the UK and has also received many awards.
“I am very excited that Samvaad gave me the opportunity to collaborate with other tribal communities where we all will create a new artwork by representing a part of our art form on a canvas that will blend with various arts. This will be a different art in itself,” she said.
Famous artist couple Subhas Vyam and Durga Bai Vyam interacted with the artists and discussed about various avenues for tribal art.
Back at Tribal Culture Centre, main venue of Samvaad, meaningful conversations continue. Taukeer Alam, Samvaad Fellow 2020 from Uttarakhand who represents local community called ‘Van Gujjar’ shared his story. “A long time ago our ancestors used to roam in the forests with their cattle. In 2003, we were removed from Rajaji National Park and relocated in Gendikhata Gujjar Basti and Pathri Gujjar Basti. I am now a nature guide in Uttarakhand and together with the Nature Science Initiative (NSI), I conduct research on wildlife and awareness campaigns in rural and urban schools. I have received Sanctuary Asia Young Naturalist Award in 2019,” Alam explained his journey.
Now Taukeer and his friends work together to educate children of those Van Gujjar societies who are still living in the forests. They have also formed a group called ‘Maee’ which is working for the preservation of language of Van Gujjar tribes. For this tribe, they have developed Dictionary, Folk Stories, Folk Songs, riddle and proverbs in local language which will be published soon. They have also created a YouTube channel to spread awareness.
The group members are 6th -12th graders. They have been taught how to recognize birds. They regularly conduct nature walks for various schools. Besides this, Taukeer also claims to accompany national and foreign bird watchers and photographers on bird excursions. “I can recognise animals of Rajaji – the elephants, tigers, leopards and bears – by their smells and sounds. I can now confidently identify more than 300 birds with their chirping sound”, he added.
Taukeer was admitted to a school at the age of 9 but he left midway. After being persuaded enough from the Nature Science Initiative researchers, he enrolled himself in the Uttarakhand State Open School in 2015. He now has completed class 12 and pursuing Bachelors from IGNOU. But he believes that educational qualifications are not the only criterion to becoming a natural scientist.
Every evening, a number of performances by tribal communities across the country will be showcased on the YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtyIjTKJAYEaMH3BkcHRVzw). A number of popular tribal bands like Sofiyum and Purple Fusion feature among the list.