In a project conceived by Art Reach India in 2015, Delhi-based artist Saba Hasan visited the Kilkari Rainbow Home for Girls, near Kashmere Gate, and helped them repaint the walls of their home, teaching them basic painting techniques and some art history along the way. Inspired by the paintings of the impressionists, and Indo-Persian miniatures, a group of senior artists chosen from among the girls conceived and executed a variety of mural landscapes and forms. Our interview with the artist is interspersed with photographs of the workshop taken by Charty Dugdale:
‘We got giant cans of color sponsored by Asian Paints, rolls of paper and crayons, and started with more precise drawings around suggested themes by me. Since the final plan was to paint the walls of their dorms, we agreed to stay with what made them happy, that is, nature as a subject… After a base coat of blue I drew the first line, following a crack in the wall, and it turned out to be a tree, of course, in white. And a lesson in how to use the problem areas of the surface of the mural.’
‘I also showed them how other artists have dealt with these: impressionists, Indian and Persian miniatures, Rousseau and some others I chose.’
‘I assigned sections of the dorm to small groups and we started our murals, slowly… The ones who dashed in and messed up eventually learnt to work in tandem, some retreated, others retracted, stepped back and then came my favourite part… to erase… paint the wall in the base blue and start again :)’
‘Some of them were just brilliant. I contacted the organisers and plan to do another workshop with them later, here and in a school in Kashmir.’
Saba Hasan is a multidisciplinary artist. She has worked on book installations, photographs, paintings, videos and sound since 1998. She has an M.A. in cultural anthropology with certification in art/ art history from the Ecole d’Arts Visuels, Lausanne, and Cambridge University. Her work was showcased at the 55th Venice Biennale at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, as part of the Imago Mundi Collection (2013). She received the Raza National Award for painting in 2005 and international fellowships for the ‘Book of Disquiet’ from Syracuse University, New York; the French Cultural Ministry, Paris (2006); the George Keyt Foundation (2002) and the Oscar Kokoschka Academy, Salzburg (2010).