CUTTACK: Artist Pravash Chaini has a dream. He wants to convert his village Sogala under Salepur block into a heritage village on the lines of Raghurajpur in Puri district.
And to realise his dream, the 40-year-old has been training at least one person in every 120-odd households of his village in Pattachitra and other crafts that are practised in Raghurajpur. He has turned a portion of his house into a workshop and providing training in the art form free of cost.
Pravash has been fascinated with visual art since his childhood. He was an average student but excelled in every art competition. After failing in the matriculation examination, he proceeded to the State Institute for Development of Arts and Crafts (SIDAC) to pursue a State-level training course in Pattachitra.
Pravash then pursued a three-month course in traditional Mysore painting at Mysore and returned to Odisha to pursue Pattachitra as his vocation.
His expertise in the craft fetched him orders for Patta paintings not only from Odisha but also far away places like Hyderabad and Bengaluru. During Nabakalebara, Pravash was engaged in the Sri Jagannath temple, Puri, to paint Pattachitra on the walls of the shrine.
“I had enough work to support myself. Hence, I thought of doing something for my village with Pattachitra,” said the artist, who has won several awards for his craft.
Pravash wants to replicate the heritage village model of Raghurajpur in Sogala and train villagers in Pattachitra and other crafts like palm leaf painting, coconut shell painting, doll making using cow dung.
“I found children whiling away their time and women sitting idle after completing their daily chores. So I decided to approach them to learn Pattachitra. Initially, some parents sent their children to learn the art. Later, their mothers joined the classes and as the word spread, more women came in,” said Pravash.
Currently, he is training 15 women in Patta painting and other crafts of Raghurajpur and so far, 13 persons of the village have mastered the craft under the guidance of Pravash. They are also supplementing their family income by selling Patta paintings through Pravash.
“I used to take my 11-year-old granddaughter to his house to learn the basics of Pattachitra. But seeing the beautiful craft, I decided to learn it myself,” said 61-year-old Pushpalata Dash, who is now selling paintings.
Interestingly, despite the advent of acrylic and oil colours, Pravash continues to use organic natural colours for his paintings. And, he makes the colours himself.
“The colours used in the Patta paintings are primarily bright colours. While all colours cannot be obtained naturally today, I use natural dyes and minerals to generate the basic colours like red, maroon, black and yellow,” he said.
Happy with his initiative, Industries Promotion Officer of Salepur block Bibhu Ranjan Swain said he will extend all help to Pravash to help him achieve his dream.