This map took me all of November to make; parts of it still needs filling in. It will complete itself in time. I gave it a rest by end November as the paper I was drawing on given the multiple folding, drawing, erasing, redrawing, colouring and handling over a month was beginning to make the whole sheet fall apart. It is currently taped panel for panel at the back along the fold lines and now stands up against my studio wall. A closer look will show a coffee cup ring from my beloved beverage holder as it accompanied my map sketching study times. This particular iteration is the 5th or 6th attempt in getting the positions and proportions right. I tossed out 3 as they were incorrect and messy. I lost 2 of the maps and close directions notes I had – one fell out of my pocket on our ride back from Marakkanam; the other was catalogued away into an unidentifiable location somewhere within the walls of my studio during one of my most recent cataloguing and reorganising bouts. I observe I go through such phases at least thrice a year. My next cataloging session will hopefully unearth Map Itrn. 2 while I hope Map Itrn.1 (if it hasn’t disintegrated into the biome it was dropped in already) offers direction to water bodies around the area to whomsoever may find it.
Note: I have not included the Vettuvankeni & Pallikarnai waterbodies in this map as I thought it best to make a separate map of them.
The 12 Waterbodies on this Map:
- The Kuyilapalayam Thamarai Kulam
- The 5 home made ponds of Adishakti
- The Ustheri Lake aka Oussudu Lake
- The Renganathapuram Thamarai Kulam
- The Renganathapuram Thazhampoo – Ambal Kulam
- Koonimedu Aiyanaar Koil Manikulai Kulam
- Koonimedu Vinayagar Koil Thamarai Kulam
- Keezhpaettai Ambal Kulam
- Keezhapaettai Manikulai Kulam
- The Kaliveli
- The Kanthadu Reserve Forest – Paddy Pond
- The Kanthadu Reserve Forest – Forest Pond
My sincere thanks to Vinobha Nathan for giving his energy and enthusiasm towards the building of this book.
Post the Kattaikuttu workshops my plan was to immediately recreate this workshop with another group of children; however the changes and affirmations it brought about gave me reason to pause. As I sat down with the drawings made by the KKG children laid out around me – in documenting, segregating, organising and simply going over them repeatedly and looking through for what then felt like a very long time – I realised I had arrived at something quite valuable and felt it would be a shame to let it pass without due attention. It was this feeling that gave me some courage to work alongside my panic when I kept hearing “But you made twenty other plans and you are stuck and frozen and …” in my head. I was staring at the drawings made by the children, there was something there… well ok, stare on.
I’ve got a few hunches about the workings of the world around and what I’ve come to believe as forms or representations of ideas of forms. I often get the feeling that I’m seeing/getting it all wrong – it just does not connect or make much sense – mostly forgetting to recall that “getting it” is different from “getting there” while I know neither it nor there.
In the meantime the IFA half yearly report was due. Writing it was a very good exercise towards clarity for me. It felt good to articulate progress along with doubts and challenges – I felt some confidence when the report was received with kindness. The writing also gave me a few directions to take.
The first bigs rains had just begun. It was time to head out to the lily ponds.
Olive is a young artist from UK on her fourth working visit to Kattaikkuttu. Many Krr Krr Workshop photographs at KKG are credited to her. She and the students share a connect. More on Olive and her work at KKG soon.
Olive Pascha Supple-Still thank you for the company, multiple terrace sittings, the beautiful photographs and feedback.
I met two artists from UK also working at KKG – Craig Jenkins and Olive Pascha Supple-Still. They both share a strong work history with Kattaikkuttu. These images are from a Ramayana based piece directed by Craig specifically to make room for the children to speak and perform in English. I didn’t get to spend much time with Craig as he left for a story telling tour soon after I arrived. Here is more on Craig’s schedule.
Kattaikkuttu Sangam has two water bodies on either side of it. The Aiyankarkulam on one side and the Punjarasanthankal lake on the other. August has been a rainy month here. It is refreshing to see water back up on the surface. I take many walks around here before and after my sessions with the children. I find my spots and park myself there. Some moving images from the recent sittings.
A closer look at Session 04 – The exercise: Today there was a nice afternoon breeze. They picked a spot – identified a tree, a blade of grass, a plant – rooted into the ground. Sit with it, listen. See the tree in the wind and the wind in the tree, move with it, like it. Place pencil on paper and see pencil draw it out. Repeat with same or another tree, plant.
Some responses from the students:
“A small plant told me I just grew up with the recent rains – you seeing me, drawing me makes me very happy. You are behaving like me. I drew a small plant, the peepal tree, one more small plant, coconut tree and neem tree.”
“I spotted a big tree which told me it was there for a long time and wondered who to marry and then fell in love and married the tree next to it and they make many fruits together. The tree told me I was welcome to as much fruit as I wanted but to please not waste them.”
“The tree did not say anything to me – but I spoke to it. I said if ever someone thinks poorly of you and you feel lonely that you are stuck in a corner – know that it is best for you. If you were in the middle of a thick bush they’ll cut you down when they decide to clear the bush.”
“The poonga tree moves its edges a little from side to side. The rose plant was small. It moved up, down all around. The poonga tree shook only a few times. Then I drew a grass. It went all the way to one side and came back – many times. I checked to see if it’s stem portion was moving – it did not. Only the top part of the grass was moving. The yellow flower tree had fewer leaves – its top was moving in circles. I did not know how to draw it. I thought about it – should I draw rounds? Then I started drawing and it automatically came.”
“I went to spot and saw a tree. I moved like it moved.As soon I started it gave me a feeling. Then I didn’t move intentionally but felt I was moved. When I started moving this way my hands started shivering suddenly. I didn’t know what to do. I immediately ran, drank some water, came back sat down quietly and relaxed. I started again – once again I don’t know what happened but my hands started shivering. This time I continued with the shivering and as the hand shook the lines came. That is all Miss. I didn’t draw it. It drew itself… it did not say anything. I saw it move and I moved.”
Session Time structure – Week 01:
11:45 – I get the paper ready for their drawing.
12:00 – We meet at our spot – talk – settle down, go over the previous sessions, make note of any new observations, feelings, thoughts.
12:15 – We work on one exercise and repeat it as many times and as slowly as we can – talk about it, redraw.
1:00 – The children finish their drawings give it to me and go for lunch – the last few sessions ran into 1:15.
1:45 – I wrap up the papers, put away stationery, make a few quick notes then join them for lunch.
The Exercises – Week 01:
- Day 01 & 02: To walk the campus, look around for an object – a leaf, a stone – anything that calls out to them. Pause and notice why it is calling out to them. How do they feel when it calls out and why they pick up that one thing alone. Spend time with it and look for a few minutes – at their flower, twig, half eaten leaf, mushroom. Then they identify a small portion within it, observe it carefully and draw it enlarged to fit their exercise paper.
- Day 03: To sit quietly for just a few minutes, eyes closed. Together we listen to the sounds we hear around us. The crickets, the cicadas, different birds flying around at varying heights and distances, the rare crow at kattaikkuttu, cows and cow herds calling out to their friends and other cows, goats and the goat herds, passers by on the road by foot, on bike, with phone, vehicles, a near by pencil box, a tapping pencil, fidgeting, dogs, sound of people inside the school building, breeze, trees in the breeze and so on. Then they go away and find a spot somewhere in the campus sit and listen to the sounds. Hearing the sounds they put their pencils on paper and move as the sound guides them.
- Day 04: Today there was a nice afternoon breeze. They picked a spot – identified a tree, a blade of grass, a plant – rooted into the ground. Sat with it, listened. See the tree in the wind and the wind in the tree, move with it, like it. Place pencil on paper and see pencil draw it out. Repeated with the same or another tree, plant.
- Day 05: They picked a spot – identified a bug, an insect, a worm, a fly – a moving organism, small. Watch it. Give it time. Put pencil on paper and follow it’s path.
- Day 06 (a): Composition session. Picked a new spot, sat there and combined all of the above exercises into one single drawing.
- Day 06 (b): The Ringarotus performance.
- Day 07: Composition.
Core questions from them to me: How do I draw this? How do I shade? Why this exercise? How is my hand doing this?
The core questions from me to them: Why did they choose the tree, grass, bug, beetle or spot? What moved or brought them to it? What was the feeling? What did they notice? Why this exercise? How are their hands doing it?