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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06) 2016 Krr Krr Studies – Alewife Brook

06 - OKK - 2016 Studies - Alewife Brook

1) Starting here

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The need is to: make a book, meet children – make a children’s picture book in collaboration and consultation with children – exploring ideas of transition of form, matter and silence across time if it interests them – use language and typography, paper and light and show these movements – continue my study on elements in flow – be quiet –  sit, see, listen by a lily pond together by night till day.

The IFA Grant to Malavika PC for Krr Krr.

I was in the city for the Art Bengaluru 2015 where I had a chance to show my first ideas for long images with the Flatland Scrolls printed on canvas. During this trip I had set aside some money to invest in paper and inks; with it I went to Bhaskar Arts Centre in CKP where they make sketchbooks in-house. I like these kind of books made by stationers in their workshops as they are simple and each stationer has a specific set of papers and forms of books that they produce.

Post the Art Bengaluru 2015 opening night two friends came back with me to my hotel room and we had a nice after party. We had much to say, catch up and consume. After they went to sleep I was still up since I’m mostly on night shifts, so I took my ciggies and went to the balcony with a fresh sketchbook. After a few pages of drawing the first sketches of the lily sequence with its ambience happened. It struck me as having potential to be a seed that could engage the many things that are influencing and shaping my life and practice at this point towards a productive and meaningful end.

I decided I would apply for an IFA Grant in 2012 because I wanted time and resources to study. Then I started thinking about what such a grant would allow me to study closely. I went about looking through my works and ideas to identify correctly what I was studying at that point and which areas of it I wanted to focus on over a long period of time consistently; especially since I have multiple interests and disciplines which I seek from. I knew I needed to make a book. After a few years of jotting scribbles and notes these were the first set of sketches that gave me the strong feeling that I had something solid. I set up a meeting with Shubham Roy Choudhury of IFA (Programme Executive: Arts Practice) and pitched the idea of a picture book to him. I explained to him the work I was used to doing as an illustrator and the discoveries I was making as an artist. He spoke about what IFA did and how it worked. I came away promising a proposal. Using these sketches as a seed thought I developed a proposal for a picture book. Post periodic reviews of it in development with the counsel of IFA I finally submitted my grant application for Arts Practice in September 2016. The grant came through in February 2017.