Seven Artists & Hundreds of Children Together Create Wall Art on School Walls
Wall Art Festival 2015
12-30 Nov 2015
Seven artists from India, Japan and Germany and hundreds of children create art work on the walls of schools.
Khagaria, one of the smallest and poorest districts in Bihar, India.
12-27 Nov : Artists and children create art
28 – 30 Nov : Open and Free exhibition of artwork
To give children a medium of expression and relate with the local community
Anpu Varkey (India)
Daisuke Kagawa (Japan)
Ichiro Endo (Japan)
Tushar & Mayur Vayeda (India)
As the name suggests, art on a wall…any wall, from prehistoric cave paintings to graffiti in urban alleyways to even squiggly scribbles of a toddler finding expression on the walls of your home. Arguably, cave paintings are the earliest known form of wall art. Most cave paintings dwell on motifs derived from hunting, ceremonial rituals, communal events or depiction of day-to-day activities. Understandably, the pigments used in the paintings were derived from locally available soil colors such as ochre (red), ivory (white), charcoal (black) etc. The Warli Tribe in Maharashtra still uses white (rice paste) and ochre (red soil) for striking contrast as highlighted in the following painting by the participating Warli artists Mayur and Tushar.
Mayur & Tushar in Earth Art Project 2014
In a more modern context, the picture below shows a classroom in Ganjad (Maharasthra) painted by Japanese artist Yusuke Aasai and students using more than eleven different soil types, all available locally! Subtle variation in red is obtained by carefully mixing different soil types. This combined with the blue background of the classroom walls provides a striking contrast and ample room for tonal variation.
Yusuke Aasai in Ganjad (Maharashtra)
Geographically, Khagaria lies in the Gangetic Plane and is rich in black alluvial soil and greyish-white silt deposited due to annual floods. Students in WAF2015 will experiment with preparing pigments of different hue and texture using a combination of red soil brought by the Warli artists, locally available alluvial, silt, charcoal and quicklime. In addition, the students with also explore fusion of synthetic and natural pigments.
Graffiti is a modern street art form and most of us have encountered images spray painted onto trains, urban alleys, bridges, street walls and most famously in New York City subways. Graffiti artists typically experiment with numerous subjects and techniques. Radical, revolutionary, fantasy, political and social satire, caricature, abstract and portrait are just some of the many subjects explored in street art. The choice of colours could range from black and white images to a riot of bright and vibrant hues painted using stencil, spray paint, good old paintbrush, chewed tress branches and any other medium that catches the artist's fantasy. Some of these differences are exemplified in the following three images by the participating graffiti artists Anpu, Tona and GuessWho.
The Wall Art Festival 2015 in Khagaria is inviting Warli Artists, Japanese Wall Artists and multiple Indian Graffiti Artists to give the students a flavor of both the traditional and contemporary art forms. While Ichiro, Mayur and Tushar have worked with WAF before, Anpu, Tona, GuessWho and Daisuke Kagawa are completely new additions.
Daisuke Kagawa is a high calibre multifaceted artist who pushes the boundaries of creative imagination. Using "Indian Ink", Daisuke renders florid and often dream-like images that challenge the viewer to dualing interpretations in the spirit of Rashmon Effect.
A group of Japanese university students financially supported the construction of a school building in Bodhgaya, Bihar. While a profound notion and a generous act, the group felt something more needed to be done if they were to truly effect any change in perception about education at the grass root level. They considered how to further contribute and composed a citizen group called Wall Art Festival executive committe. This group brought together Wall Artists from Japan and India to engage parents, students and teachers into a dialogue through a visual medium. The artists and school students worked together in a workshop to paint classroom and other school walls into an explosion of colours and creative imagination. The students fashioned wall paint from locally available different soil types, developed themes and stories for wall paintings and collaborated with artists to paint the walls. In the process, the students fostered an informal relationship with the artists which allowed them to ask questions without fear of embarrassment. It also revealed students with prodigious talent for paint-making, painting and storytelling. Some aim to become artists while other opend up to express themselves more freely. In general, the students became more expressive in singing, playing, painting and seemed poised to engage. At the end of a two to three week workshop, the school opened their doors to visitors for 3 days to come and appreciate the open and free art exhibition. This vortex of parents, students, teachers, villagers and artists created harmony and raised the sense of community consciousness. In the past, the WAF had been organized on five occasions at three schools in Bodhgaya in Bihar, and Dahanu Taluk in Maharashtra. Remarkably, the enrollment in most rural schools hosting the Wall Art Festival increased by about 50-100 students. Suddenly, the school with its bright and cheerful walls painted with high quality art and an atmosphere of genial informality became more welcoming. The school metamorphosed into a large canvas on which the students can draw, erase and redraw their dreams, hopes and aspirations. What institutionalized "schemes" could not achieve after years of implementation, WAF achieved in a few weeks of genuinely engaging with students.
In general, we see the art works in the museum, but never experience the process. How artists work and put their thoughts into the art work, how hard they work to create something from zero, and the degree of passion it requires. In the Wall Art Festival, children experience the creative process first hand, and it dramatically stimulates their creativity. The WAF does not aspire to teach children how to paint or to create art work in the conventional sense. The teaching would flow as a by-product of the collaboration between the artists and students.
Khagaria is about 160 km north of Patna and is the smallest district in Northern Bihar. Surrounded by seven rivers and their tributaries Koshi, Ganga, Kamla, Balan, Boodhi Gandak and Baghmati, severe floods are an annual occurrence. A bane for fertility it is a sure curse for everything else. Khagaria is also known as “Farakiya”, a combination of two Hindi words Farak-Kiya, which roughly translates as “Exempted”. According to folklore Raja Todarmal, the finance minister of the Mughal King Akbar visited the region in the 16th Century and found the populace suffering from severe malnutrition and the disease neurolathyrism caused by prolonged consumption of a neurotoxin containing local legume Khesari (Species: Lathyrus Sativus). Floods, malnutrition and disease prompted Raja Todarmal to exempt the region from crop revenue, hence the name Farak-kiya. Unfortunately, we still lag significantly in all indices of social development. Khagaria boasts of a 60 % literacy rate but superstition, untouchability and caste-based discrimination rule the roost. Seldom, if ever, does Khagaria witness social and cultural events that would expose us to the enriching world of literature, art and music. Schools, both private and government run a straitjacketed curriculum which severely discourages a two way diaologue and fearless questioning between teachers and students. With WAF2015, we are taking a tentative step to include students and their parents, teachers and local people in a community event that would, we hope, enrich all.
We hope that the collaboration among the artists and between artists and students will reveal surprise artists and storytellers. Artists, children, teachers, volunteers and the people of Khagaria will forge new bonds and everyone will share the passion and experience of creativity. There will be plenty of smiles in and after the WAF. Your support would create the opportunity for cross-cultural exchange and shared learning. Of course, you are welcome to join WAF2015 as volunteers (see FAQ).
12 Nov - 27 Nov : Student-artist collaborative workshop
28 Nov - 30 Nov : International Art Exhibition free and open to all
Although, New Holy Ganges Public School is the school adopted for WAF2015, students of ALL schools in Khagaria would be invited to participate during the workshop and art exhibition. The participating artists would also work at sites of their chosing in Khagaria for street art. These street arts will raise awareness about the WAF2015 and extend an invitation for the 3 day festival.
50% - Artist Fee
15% - Food & Stay
15% - Travel and tickets
10% - Paints and materials
5% - Event promotion
5% - Miscellaneous expenses
Risks and challenges
As long as we have sufficient funds, I don't foresee any significant risk. We have numerous university students and professionals, both from India and Japan, willing to volunteer for the event. Funds seem to be the only barrier at this point towards realizing our dream of WAF2015 in Khagaria. Having said that, the only key challenges that we may face is the huge number of students who would potentially want to participate in WAF. We have a tentative strategy for shortlisting students but it will undergo fine tuning with the consent of the artists when they arrive in Khagaria.
Is Wall Art Festival an NGO ?
No. WAF is a motley group of individuals who work together on specific issues. Members, artists, volunteers, participants and most importantly the focus on issues changes with each WAF.
I am a Wall Artist. Can I participate ?
Our apologies! Our plates are full for WAF2015. We would love to work with you in future wall art festivals. Send us your portfolio.
I attend a school not in Khagaria. Can I participate ?
We are overwhelmed with student response from local schools and we must apologize to you. However, if you believe you have exceptional talent in painting, paint-making or story-telling, send us your portfolio and we will work it out.
I would like to volunteer. How should I go about it ?
You are welcome. Food and modest stay free! Shoot us an email at rendezvousDOTananATgmailDOTcom with a brief bio.
I am a film-maker/photographer. Can I attend ?
Absolutely! Food and modest stay for the duration of the workshop/festival is on us. Shoot us an email ASAP at rendezvousDOTananATgmailDOTcom and we will work it out.
How safe is Khagaria ?
As safe as any other mid-size town of fifty-thousand souls.
Weather in Khagaria in Nov-Dec. ?
Cold and chilly. Day temperatures around 15 ºC, nights below 10. Prepare for layered clothing as the days indoor can get warm.
How can I reach Khagaria ?
Air: Fly to Patna. Take a 160 km train or cab ride to Khagaria. Train: Station code is KGG. Multiple train from all major towns and cities criss-cross Khagaria. Nearby stations are Barauni and Katihar.