MANGALURU: In an era, which is at the receiving end of global warming and climate change, the need to ideate sustainable solutions and devise means to make life more eco-friendly is of paramount importance. While marching on this path, moulding children for a better tomorrow is crucial. And a fun way to do so is what a 31-year-old artist from Dakshina Kannada has been up to.
To encourage children to become more environmentally responsible, Vinodraj, who hails from Bettampady in Puttur taluk, is creating art using naturally available scraps and material typical of his region. The artist, who works with the organisation ‘Prathiroopi’ under art director Shashidhar Adapa, began this initiative in March when he returned home from Bengaluru, following the lockdown.
What began merely to spend the locked period in a fruitful manner has continued as a movement to inspire youngsters and keep them engaged. Scouting for items to further his plan, brought him to his own sylvan green environs. Around his home, an abundance of dry leaves, coconut shells, dry flowers, tree branches, beehives, and stones would eventually be transformed into artworks.
Vinodraj says, “Nowadays, children are addicted to mobile phones. But it is our responsibility to instil love for nature in their minds. During the lockdown, I was rendered jobless. So, I decided to turn naturally available items from outside my house and some plantations nearby into art.” Asks Vinodraj: “When we have naturally available items, why use artificial, plastic things which are harmful to the environment?”
Inspired by the idea of turning waste into beautiful art, children from his locality began taking interest too.
“When the lockdown rendered people jobless, Vinodraj inspired all to be positive and make the most of their free time. Even I have been making crafts using materials available at home,” says Tushar K, a Class 10 student of Vivekananda School, Tenkila. “Using items which most people discard as waste is inspiring to all of us. Even I want to become a successful artist like Vinodraj Sir,” says Khyathi S Rai, a Class 4 student of Bethany English Medium School from Bettampady Guthumane.
Vinodraj completed his primary schooling at Bettampady and went on to pursue a five-year degree course at Nirmala Chitrakala Vidyalaya in Hassan. He then moved to Mysuru to bag a Masters in Fine Arts at the Kalanikethana Kala Vidyalaya. He is also the key interior designer of Guthumane at Pilikula Nisargadhama under Adapa. For the last couple of years, Vinodraj has been a part of the team creating the state tableaux for the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, his ‘sustainable art initiative’ has created over 60 artworks with a frame and base using eco-friendly items, which he intends to exhibit in his hometown, as well as in Bengaluru, so that the youth are inspired to take up such craft. Some of his creations which have enthralled people include a gramophone made from a dried mushroom, a flower vase,and an owl created out of a dried coconut. “Apart from scrap art, I have made digital paintings, including that of PM Modi and Lord Ram for the Bhoomi Puja in Ayodhya, which have gone viral on social media,” he says.
Vinodraj is now busy painting a Buddha series, of which he has already completed five creations.
With Bengaluru continuing to register numerous Covid-19 cases daily, it may be a while before Vinodraj returns. “During this critical period, art keeps us engaged. These artworks helped me relax and stay positive. I urge the children and those who are indoors to get innovative and make the most and best of their free time,” he says.