THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Peppy, sparkling and full of life - that is Kallar river, as it meanders through the thick forests of the Western Ghats, her infectious laughter echoing across the large pebbles and beyond the banks. At times she turns gorgeous and wild, breaking free, mesmerising and awesome.
It is no wonder that this lovely river charmed renowned artist Sajitha R Shanker, into developing a creative space on its banks, the Gowry Art Institute. A dream, created pebble by pebble - everytime Sajitha sold a painting, she would fly down from Chennai, to roll up a few more pebbles to the structure.
If these round smooth pebbles could speak, each of them would tell a tale, of art, painting and creativity. The tales would then creep and crawl around each other giving you even bigger tales about wisdom, culture, values, romance, knowledge and even spirituality.
But above all, it would speak about the power, the innate feminine power in every woman, says Sajitha. ‘‘The idea is to explore the sensibilities, emotions and insights rooted in the experiences of women and also the linkages between feminity and nature,’’ she says. It was the deep friendship that Sajitha had with writer-cum-activist Amrit Wilson and their shared passion for art and feminism that gave shape to the institute.
The institute, in memory of two great creative artists, poet Kamala Surayya and dancer Chandralekha, will be dedicated to the promotion of visual arts with a special focus on women artists. “But we would welcome film-makers, writers, poets, musicians and photographers,’’ says Sajitha who believes that from such confluences come explosions of creativity, hitherto unexplored.
The pebble house will also function as an art residency for both men and women artists. Interested persons can go in for yearly or annual memberships which will allow you a week’s stay at the residency by the river. In addition to the studios, it has a couple of bedrooms and a kitchen, but those of who would like to get a taste of native food can opt for that, but you need to inform earlier on.
Almost all the rooms have a view of the river, which itself would be inspiration unlimited!. But the best place for discussions is definitely the roof top, where the cool breeze and rustle of the leaves makes the experience unforgettable.
The Gowry Art Institute will also hold activities to initiate dialogues between participants, organise gallery shows, conduct art camps, promote art education, and also offer fellowships and scholarships. “This creative space would be more of a room for all than a room of one’s own. It would be a place of synergy, synthesis and of dialogue among those who are courageous enough to push the boundaries of art,’’ says Sajitha.
Rivers have always been the lifelines of ancient civilizations, triggering creativity in art, dance, music, architecture and spirituality. In every age, diverse human communities have reinvented themselves on river-banks and who knows, maybe it is now the turn of Kallar and Gowry Art Institute to whip up some excitement.