SHANTINIKETAN_A VISIT TO THE LAND OF ARTS
Among paintings & sculptures
One day after my elder son S reached home ( we stay in Calcutta) during his vacation, his friend came to our place with his fiancée.( Let us call them Q and M).to meet S from Hyderabad. M is a Graduate in Fine Arts ..... she was very keen to visit Shantiniketan where Rabindranath put up Vishwabharati, an educational institution with a difference. Rabindranath put a lot of emphasis on fine arts. During the changes time brought into the character of this institution after his expiry, Viswabharati ranks high among students of fine arts in India. M was very much interested to visit Kalabhavan ( ‘House of Arts’) of Viswabharati. Q had another interest in mind….. he wanted to pick up handicrafts from the December fare at Shantiniketan.
My wife R ,S,Q ,M and I started for Shantiniketan on the morning of 30th December,'07. The distance between Calcutta and Shantiniketan is about 230 km. S took upon himself the task of driving. He covered the distance with a small break for lunch and we were at Kalabhavan at 2.00pm. We were worried if the studios of the students will be open during the last week of December…..it is the holiday week for the students in India.
Fortunately, we found a few students from painting and sculpture disciplines,working inspite the university being nearly closed. Therefore,a few studios were open, The students were frank with us the outsiders ……and my wife, herself a painter, helped M to initiate a conversation with each of the students present.
It was quite an useful exercise for both R and M. S and Q loitered around while I took my camera around to capture photos of the sculptures created by Ramkinkar . I saw a ‘baul’ singing with his stringed instrument under a big tree…. But no one from the holiday crowd around came forward to give him any money for his efforts and soon he stopped crooning. See his photo ….poor fellow sitting among a group of people with his instrument lying silent.
I have always been moved by the sculptures of Ramkinkar. This time, it was no exception. His creations are so powerful that I feel overwhelmed… specially by the two statues of ‘santhal’ families.
We skipped the routine visit to the museum as it was very crowded. We walked through the orchard ,’Amrakunja’ to the fare. It was again very crowded. The best of the wares from artisans of Bengal…. stalls of ‘Dokra’ brass work, wooden panels and most of the terracotta work were gone. Still, there as enough merchandise of interest for the young couple. They chose terracotta horses ( typical of ‘Bankura’ district), lampshades and countless other articles.
We debated for a while whether we should stay back and visit a village of ‘dokra’ artists on our way back home next morning OR brave a return journey the same night. Well, the allurement of going back home and the idea of sleeping in our own bed prevailed .
We reached Calcutta before midnight tired but quite happy.