Exploring the world through art

first_imgPuppeteer Anurupa Roy was astounded a few years ago when she came across a child who was surprised at seeing mangoes grow on a tree! It was then, says the puppeteer that the pervading detachment of children with the outside world, suddenly dawned upon her. “He thought mangoes came from supermarkets and that somebody had stuck them on to the tree,” says Roy.The puppeteer is part of the team, which conceptualised and designed Elements an interactive exhibition for children currently being hosted at the National Museum. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The exhibition seeks to kindle the senses of an Internet driven generation where sensorial experiences are a rare luxury for children, who live structured lives mostly in enclosed spaces.A brainchild of Think Arts, founded by Das, the experiential, interactive art and theatre exhibition, invites children, aged six to twelve years old, to explore another world. “A generation ago, this exhibition would have been redundant. We had the outdoors to play in. We touched, smelt, felt, heard and used all of our senses as we explored. These experiences fuelled our imagination,” says Ruchira Das, who has co-created the exhibition with Roy. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix”Through Elements, the children return to a world of wonder, in all of its senses. Here, children are left to their own non-electronic devices,” she says. As children embark upon this journey, they first halt at the art room, that has just about every kind of, what may be called, ‘junk.’  From cardboard boxes and scraps of cloth (katran) and colorful paper to poster colours, the room is a repository that would let a child’s imagination run riots. “The room invites children to engage in building a sculpture (using what is available around them) by sticking, tearing, tying etc,” says Das.  While some children tried a hand at painting, others stuck colorful posters on the empty sides of the cardboard boxes. The next stop is a room full of cupboards and chests of drawers, carefully aimed at enhancing the different senses. One of them, for instance, is filled with sand into which the children dug deep until they found a piece of white carved stone, that looked similar to a Harappan seal kept nearby. The realisation tends to drive their curiosity further, provoking them to find all the pieces and put them together to form the seal. As they open one cupboard after the other, they are introduced to a new world, until they open the one that takes them to the labyrinth. The labyrinth is an experience in itself, where the children, stumble upon musical instruments and jigsaw puzzles while attempting to find their way out.”The jigsaw puzzles are inspired by miniatures from the gallery at the National Museum,” says Roy. The tunnel in the maze culminates into a room replete with a variety of musical instruments, many inspired from those in the museum’s music gallery. “It has easy-to-play instruments that help the child explore the different sounds coming from elements like seed, metal, wood and bamboo,” says Das. The final stretch of the exhibition includes a textured path, where children can walk on sand, pebbles, saw dust and wet foam.National Museum Director-General Sanjiv Mittal says the aim of the event was to supply back the luxury that Indians a generation ago enjoyed in their younger days. “We have timed it with the summer vacations for schools upcountry.”  Anurupa Roy along with Shravan Heggudu and S Raghuvendra, from Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust are the designers of the exhibition and co-creators of the artworks.The team also includes professional musician Rajat Mallick and Prarthana Hazra, a recent post-graduate from Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. The exhibition, which debuted in Kolkata in April and is scheduled to move to Bangalore next, is set to continue here till July 5.last_img