Celebrating the work of unknown artists

This wonderful painting makes an otherwise dull wall come alive at the Valley School near Bangalore

This wonderful painting makes an otherwise dull wall come alive at the Valley School near Bangalore

A couple of days ago I posted an item about the book “Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit” (April 30th 2014) Several people have since commented to me about the beautiful illustrations in this book and where they may see further examples of Indian tribal art. I have to begin by telling them that I am no expert in this area, and that any knowledge I have is largely superficial. We do have, hanging on a wall here in our home a beautiful example of this Mithila art form given to me by kind friends in India, it depicts two birds with their brood of young surrounded by images from the forest, but apart from this and seeing examples in various parts of India, my knowledge of the artists who create this work is limited. What I do know is that I find many of these images quite remarkable for their closeness to nature, the freedom of expression and the use of colour.

I suppose that my first real exposure to this kind of art came on one of my many visits to the Valley School near Bangalore where my dear friend Satish Inamdar has often made myself, Sara and several friends, colleagues and students very welcome since I first visited him there in 2000. At this remarkable school they have created an art village where they often invite artists from across India and sometimes from other parts of the world, to come and interact with their pupils whilst setting up their studios and workshops. Whenever I have visited the Valley School this art village has drawn me like a magnet, knowing that there will always be interesting people to meet, events to enjoy and children engaged in creative activity. The last time I was there various musicians were running workshops for children, some practicing tabla and pakhavaj drums and others learning the intricate skills of dhrupad, a form of classical Indian singing. At other times I have seen children being taught pottery or engaged in spinning or weaving activities. The focus is upon learning by doing and through enjoyment.

Whilst I have never been fortunate enough to meet the artists who produce tribal paintings around the school, their work is in evidence on many of the buildings. A fine example can be seen on the home page of this blog – a large colourful painting located near the school offices. When I look at the illustrations in “Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit” I can see how Amrita Das has taken the style of these tribal works and developed them for the purpose of telling her story. She has learned from previous generations of artists, but like all good learners she has reflected on their work and developed her own style and means of expression.

Several people have commented to me that they see similarities in this artwork to that produced by tribal peoples from Australia and parts of Africa. These countries too, have maintained traditions of celebrating the creatures of the land and the everyday lives of people through their art. As so many friends and colleagues have been discussing the work of these largely unknown and uncelebrated artists over the past two days, I thought it appropriate to post a number of images from the Valley School near Bangalore simply for your enjoyment and as a celebration of the work of these talented individuals. How could children and adults working surrounded by this art fail to be inspired?

To learn more about the Art Village at the Valley School go to the following link:


I hope you enjoy the pictures – do let me know what you think (If you click on each picture it will be enlarged)

16 Valley School

13 Valley School

14 Valley School

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