Workshop on Gond Folk Art at Candid Hr School, Srinagar
JK Arts Foundation is an NGO which works to promote the value of arts in education and aims at contributing in the integration of arts in mainstream Indian education. Practicing visual arts, according to research, leads to cognitive development, acquisition of problem solving skills, cultivation of positive human values and reduction of stress and anxiety, all of which can greatly contribute in the shaping of the world’s next generation. Moreover, art education can also be utilized to create mass awareness about the wealth of indigenous and tribal art forms which have existed and flourished in the Indian subcontinent in centuries but which are now under threat of extinction. JKAF aspires to succeed in these dual dimensions through conducting workshops in schools with a special focus on children from disadvantageous backgrounds and by publishing articles that facilitate the preservation and spread of knowledge pertaining to India’s vibrant artistic realm.
True to its mission of spreading arts in education, the Foundation organized a workshop on Gond folk art at the Candid Hr School in Srinagar. Srinagar is the largest city of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, traditionally known as the region’s summer capital. Located beside the river Jhelum (a tributary of the Indus river) and the Dal lake, the city is famed for its natural beauty, architectural splendor and handicrafts industry. Srinagar is home to such monuments as the Hazratbal mosque (the only domed mosque in Srinagar, reputedly containing a relic related to the Prophet Muhammad), the Jama mosque (the largest mosque of Srinagar constructed in the 14 th century CE by sultan Sikander Butshikan, sporting spires instead of domes) and the Shankaracharya temple (reputedly the oldest structure in Srinagar, this Shiva temple located at the top of the Shankaracharya hill provides a breathtaking view of the surrounding city). Boasting sparkling lakes, floating gardens and houseboats, Srinagar is the perfect blend of natural beauty and man-made wonders.
The workshop took place on 26 th November, 2022. It began with the organization’s founder Geeta Vaishnavi greeting forty students in attendance. She delivered an introductory address emphasizing the role of arts in education and introducing the children to the rich heritage of Gond folk art. Thereafter, the students were shown a video tutorial on how to create Gond artworks. Each student was supplied with a free art kit as well as print-outs of Gond artworks and was encouraged to try and recreate them. Gond art was and continues to be practiced by one of India’s largest tribal groups, the Gonds, who can be found in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chattishgarh, with little smaller groups living elsewhere. This particular art form is inspired by the natural surroundings that the tribal group inhabited and the myths and legends that sprung from these surroundings.
The themes of the major Gond artworks, therefore, revolve around butterflies, lions, trees, scenes of nature in addition to Hindu gods and goddesses (especially Ganesha). The method involves placing dots on the designated surface to determine the volume of the desired artwork, connecting those dots and finally filling the outline of the image with colors. The Gonds use natural colors like red, blue, yellow and orange, all prepared from natural substances around them like flowers and stones. The unique, simplistic, yet powerful nature of Gond art has led to its popularity in circles of art enthusiasts across India and beyond.
The workshop, in the end, was a great success. Students were highly enthusiastic about Gond art and asked questions regarding techniques to produce such wondrous works of art. The faculty, too, was satisfied. Ikra Shah, a teacher at Candid Hr School, stated that more such workshops should be conducted, as they have a lot of talented students but no one to guide them. With this workshop, JK Arts Foundation has moved one step closer towards popularizing arts in education in India.