74) 2017 Sept – A.I.R – Olive Pascha Supple-Still – Kattaikkuttu Sangam

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.74A - Olive - OKK - 2017 Studies - Cholamandal Residency74B - Olive - OKK - 2017 Studies - Cholamandal Residency

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73) 2017 Sept – A.I.R Craig Jenkins – Kattaikkuttu Sangam

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.

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61) 2017 August – Krr Krr Workshops – Kattaikkuttu Sangam – Finding Spots

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59) 2017 August Krr Krr Experiments – Moving Images – 017 – 021

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.

 

58) 2017 August – Krr Krr Workshops – Kattaikkuttu Sangam – Trees & Wind

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.”

 

 

 

 

57) 2017 August – Krr Krr Workshops – Kattaikkuttu Sangam – Session 01 – 07

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.

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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?

 

56) 2017 AUGUST – THE CHILDREN – Kattaikkuttu Sangam

It is krr krr workshop time – I’ve been looking forward to this for a few years now. The first set of workshops bring me to Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam in Kanchipuram.  The taxi packed: The Ringarotus drawings, clothes, books, the guitar, a trunk with inks and pen, nicotine, 2 big stacks of cut natural evolution paper, few books I’ve illustrated, this year’s first bunch of bananas from the garden, the various gadgets for documentation, umbrella and pillow.

The gurukulam is a residential theatre school established by P.Rajagopal and Hanne de Bruinin in 2002 – it focuses on using the traditional performance form of Kattaikkuttu as the medium of education; 44 children between 6 and 16 years old study & perform here. It is based in Punjarasantankal, a small village near Kanchipuram Town, about 85 kilometres from Chennai.

The Kattaikkuttu children wake up at 6am groom themselves, drink milk and show up for their 7:30am movement or vocal class. 8:30 am breakfast. Morning classes in reading, writing, maths, science, computer & social sciences with a 11am tea-milk break, classes continue. 12:00pm krr krr workshop, 1 pm lunch. 1:30 onwards music class to train in instruments and songs special to the kattaikkuttu form. 3:00pm – 5:00pm, together they learn and rehearse the repertory from their Thaatha Mr P.Rajagopal with a small snack break in between. 6:30 pm homework, play 7:30pm dinner, 9:00pm sleep.

The weekend timetable has a different mood. They wash their clothes, clean up stuff, study, attend custom fit classes, play, sit – do weekend things. They watch 2 movies together. They actively participate in taking care of their school.

Such is the work done to develop the strength to be a performer in this form – a Kattaikkuttu performance is an 8 hour long show done across the night in the open air on a square piece of ground somewhere in the middle of the village. It starts at 10pm and ends at 6am the next day.

From their website:
“Imagine how many songs and words you need to fill an entire night…”.
“A good actor knows at least two ‘big’ roles of any play. They are on stage for 4 or more hours when they play a ‘big’ role. There are more than 20 traditional Kattaikkuttu plays. That means that they know 20 x 4 x 2 = 160 hours of text by heart.”

The mountain comes to Kattaikkuttu – artists and patrons from across the world travel to this school bringing their work, exposure, thoughts and gifts; as the children keep at their arts practice.

Within this kind of set up I am filled with anticipation towards my 60 minutes a day with them. I’ve just completed 7 sessions and 1 performance at the school. The school closed for a holiday weekend and the children went home. A good break to reflect on the goings on.

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55) 2017 August – Krr Krr meets The Ringarotus

The Krr Krr Residency at Cholamandal Artists’s Village:

The CCC Residency was very successful. I got started on a 1 by 1 metre accordion form that ran 38 metres long. The studio gave me room to fold out the pages and see the paper. I made large strokes on walls, tables and the floor. With this piece I was attempting to make a first draft version of a long book –  which I was hoping to have ready in time for the scheduled krr krr workshops with the children. I got more than I expected.

The Outcome:

  • piece ( No.12 ) Beige Accordion 125 ft x 3.3 ft was ready in time for a workshop.
  • it took 56 days to draw.
  • it became the solution to * another body of work I have been invested in alongside the krr krr book.
  • i now have one more accordion and a full length performance to take along.

* The Ringarotus – Process:

I realise I like to grow out an idea – catch as much of its lifetime on running paper as I can. It is the process of stalking the idea. For a few years now I have been drawing under a thought about timing, how it nests within static visuals, how I see and express movement; looking closely at what moves the hand.

Physically & emotionally this is a piece for me to realise how much space there is and how quickly, involuntarily all that room gets filled by imagination and gross connections. In terms of practice I’ve thrived on the faith it gave me that this was a meaningful expedition. I’ve had so much fun drawing through the last few years to see the light, play with ink, hold paper, make brushes – let the flow take it’s course and finally perform. Now I want to feel and share the experience of setting ones attention to recognise a phenomenon – sense it, see the closure pass by and do its thing. These moments allow for pauses long enough to feel the pulses as life exchanges itself onto other currents. The absurdity of a life blessed within animated muscular movements of matter reorganising itself along time; this ringarotus.

 

The Ringarotus – Timeline:

  • late 2014: started drawing, studying, writing towards this. making paper models, taking photographs, small videos  |  core themes: movement, change, body, paper, ink, drawing, sound, feeling, light, time, abstraction.
  • 2015: notating crickets and crows; making collages  |  attending the rhythm portion of the adishakti source of performance energy workshop | first arrangement drawings.
  • 2015: drawing 4 walls by 14 nights at adishakti.
  • 2016, summer: there – piece ( No.01) rice paper scroll; wooden floors, a balcony  | a crossword clue  |  meeting a master for the first time after 12 years of correspondence  ||  here – a white perforated continuous computer feed stack and many scrolls.
  • 2017: figuring ways to use the cracks of a wall to draw, used up most of the scrolls in the process | wall still in progress.
  • 2017, summer: food  |  rehearsals at spaces  |  piece ( No.12 ) beige accordion 125 ft x 3.3 ft  |  cholamandal artist residency  |  a chennai summer by the marshes | yazhini, pcs and meat.
  • total drawn volume so far: 1330 feet of scrolls & accordions, 4 books across 339 pages, 30 large and medium size paintings, 30 plus sketchbooks and a few solid piles of papers; a few scroller models with paper and a decent amount of photos and videos.
  • a 1 hr 45 min pilot was performed to a close community of artists and friends in 2017, on the 1st of august at spaces in chennai.
  • a 1 hr 25 minute version was performed to the students and staff of kattai kuttu sangam in kanchipuram, on the 23rd of august.