Grade 9 students visited the Cholamandal Artists’ Village on a day that began with damp weather and heavy downpour. As expected, the uneasy weather gave in to the children’s spirit as they made their way to the Museum of Contemporary Art housed within this one of a kind artists’ commune.
Armed with the school art expert Ms.Diana and under the guidance of a resident artist,Ms Latha, the children spent the morning poring through art, appreciating it and wondering about its genesis.
Children sketched, took notes and attempted to soak in the artistic flair that was up on all the walls and in every nook of the gallery.
They listened intently as Ms.Latha, one of the four remaining artists from the Madras Art Movement, explained how the commune came into being in 1966, the challenges the artists faced in setting up this unique space, their small wins and how it slowly began to thrive.
They heard first hand-accounts from one of the founding members and the president of the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, Mr. Gopinath, who was all too happy to share anecdotes about the resourcefulness of all the artists. Children learnt important lessons in co-existence when Mr Gopinath talked about the times when the commune was newly set up and they joined hands with the fisherfolk community while trying to find their footing in their new abode. Children were also moved by the compassion that the staff and residents at Cholamandal exude towards all the fellow visitors- the egrets, army of moths and indie dogs.
Children posed a range of questions to Ms,Latha, Mr. Jacob( an eminent contemporary artist) and Mr. Gopinath – from what determines the price of an artwork to how the artists’ supported themselves during the pandemic. Having seen some of Mr. Jacob’s paintings in the gallery, children also had some pointed questions about his style.
Children came away with their art quotient upped!