Supriya Sharma – The Times of India: Delhi
There is art in every nook and cranny of almost every city of Rajasthan. Catherine Parker from Melbourne first visited India as an‘artist in residence’. She got so immersed in the cultural milieu of the desert state that she returns
each year to explore more. After meeting people who loved to travel and explore art, she came up with the idea of combining the two. Parker’s ‘Drawn to India’ art tours in Rajasthan are a complex tapestry of religion, music, rituals,
festivals and ancient art-making practices.“I can’t imagine any other place that offers such a wide variety of inspiration – from the grand festivals to the humble offerings beside a tree or a floating candle on the Ganga,” she says. Participants on her tours get to visit the rug weavers, potters and painters of Jodhpurand the woodblock makers of Bagru outside Jaipur and learn their traditional techniques.She also conducts art classes in old forts of Rajasthan,which are all about using natural pigments,mixed media materials, and found objects to create collages.Art Inn Jaipur is another artist’s retreat thatoffers art workshops in miniature paintings,handmade paper, wooden toys, textiles and bluepottery. The facilities include boarding, meals, workshops and excursions. “Year after year, wesee art professors, students, painters, writers,paper makers, marketing and management professionalscoming to us to take an art break,”says Devena Singh, art consultant with ArtInn.
The quaint villages of the state are dotted with pottery studios and amateur art dens.One place that has been drawing the creative bunch is Art Escape, near Benaulim beach.The eco retreat offers a mix of classes on art and sculpture, yoga, recycling and waste management,design and innovation, photography and film curating. You can simply be a walk-inguest or an amateur wanting to experience something new. “It is a community for artists,travellers and anyone with a creative bent of mind. It draws people for the incessant flow ofconversation and inspiration in everything alternate,”says Kanika Jamdar, a young architectfrom Mumbai. Puneet Rakheja, a filmmaker and photographer,says, “I visited Art Escape duringmonsoons. The mood was quiet and conversational.It’s located right at the beach, andthe place had a few travellers. We shared stories over endless mugs of coffee and tea. I stilltry to hold on to the state of mind and try to slip into it whenever I can.”
Auroville is the perfect hub for art therapy with its cross-culture milieu with peoplefrom over 45 countries. At The Art Therapy Retreat, therapist Tia Pleiman uses art to provideparticipants with “a voice which may not have existed, to build confidence and a sense of culturalidentity”. Her art therapy programme has people from all professions, backgrounds discoveringlife through art. “Art can help people find peace within,” says Pleiman. Harnita Ramamurthy,a participant, says, “This retreat encourages self-exploration. One of the exerciseswe were given was to use a colour, line, design and word to express ourselves and then writedown whatever came to our mind. Such exercises are a fun way to bring out the thoughts ofour subconscious mind.”
_ TIMES NEWS NETWORK