Sarmaya’s second collaboration with Saturday Art Class happened on February 1st, just a week after its first and the topic being explored was ‘Help one, help all’. Through this workshop, we introduced children to the indigenous art form of Gond, whose underlying theme of natural harmony and peaceful co-existence lent itself beautifully to strengthening the lesson plan.
The children – two classrooms of third and fourth graders each – were first encouraged to discuss what the topic meant to them. The workshop’s volunteers or coaches guided them as they came up with answers like: “Sharing with each other,” “Waiting for each other,” and “Listening and talking to each other”.
With this brief, the children then quietly sat down to watch four of their classmates enact a story from the lesson plan. The story was set in a dense jungle and featured four characters, all animals, who found ways to live together and build symbiotic relationships. Breaking up into smaller groups, the children were then taken through a brief and succinct overview of Gond art. Colourful examples from the Sarmaya collection were displayed by the coaches who helped the children identify and understand the essential qualities of this form from Madhya Pradesh, like the bright colours, subjects like animals, trees and birds, and the in-filling of dots, dashes and lines.
Following this the children were handed stencils of two paintings, and instructed to paint in the Gond style. They worked in pairs, helping each other as their art took shape. The little ones collaborated intensely to finish their paintings; completing each other’s dots and dashes or splitting up colouring tasks with minimal conflict—and maximum fun.