About a month back, when I first spoke to Mrs Ina Bharadwaj about blogging the Art Mela, I received enthusiastic support. My school is known for trying out wacky ideas as experiments, including that one time people from my batch tried out Middle Eastern choreography on Sports Day (no, really). They usually work out wonderfully, and this year was no exception. Here’s a recap of all the amazing things I discovered at MHS Art Mela 2016, ranked in order of nostalgia:
[NB: Please pardon the terrible photographs. I never claimed to either have a DSLR or know how to use one.]
Thing #1: Incredible Artwork
“When we were celebrating our school’s 60th year, Mrs (Devi) Kar (Director) suggested we organize an Art Mela,” said Mrs Bharadwaj, Art teacher, friend, philosopher and guide of all budding artists in MHS. “It would be different from an exhibition. Girls from our school, as well as students from other institutions were to take part. It would be a day to celebrate and appreciate art.”
The young artists behind the endeavour have stayed true to this motto throughout the years, and the results are here to be seen. The sheer variety of art at the Mela is mind-boggling, as is the expertise of the students. Here are a few the various kinds of artists that gathered at the Mela:
When it’s an art exhibition, can pop culture be far behind?
The Landscape Lover
Landscape paintings are mainstays of most artists’ portfolios. But things begin to get interesting when they morph into triptychs, or surreal sunset forests on canvas.
The Installation Enthusiast
Visual installations are ridiculously hard to pull off. Trust me: I’ve tried. This kids, however, have obviously done a vastly better job than me. Check out the pegasus on the bottom right!
The Portrait Fiend
From the realist Afghan Girl to surrealist Dali to geometric twins to wired faces: the standard portrait painting has evolved in the hands of the artists of MHS.
Thing #2: Workshops and Installations
“Recently, while we have the Mela, we’ve started holding live workshops,” said Mrs Bharadwaj. “This time, we created an installation with our students and members of Art Rickshaw.”
Other workshops included Kettle Painting, Painting with Coffee and Floral Art, to name only three.
Thing #3: The Unfamiliar Sight of Fashionable Clothes
The Art Mela is an event to express oneself, so how can fashion not be a part of it? Walking onto the school grounds during the Mela is such a unique experience partly because everyone is out of the (beloved) uniform, rushing about yelling or laughing. It’s a chance to let our hair down- in the most decorous manner possible, of course.
Thing #4: The Even More Unfamiliar Sight of Boys
Now, boys may not be the rarest of creatures in the worlds at large. But when you’ve studied in a girls’ school for some amount of time, their existence seem to become similar to the Loch Ness Monster’s– namely, known yet mysterious and taken to be mostly mythical. Even when you go back to school after graduating with full knowledge of their real-ness, there is nothing odder than seeing one of them chilling near the staircase.
Thing #5: The Strange Phenomenon of Students from Other Schools
This feeling also descends during the inter-school fests. It’s similar to what the Hogwartians felt during the Triwizard Tournament, but without the dragons. Friendships are made and prizes are competed for. This year, the students were creating installations on the concept “Reconstruction” in the MHS Art Room.
Thing #6: The Brilliant Smiles of the Teachers
Returning to school is as much about meeting the teachers as it is about meeting younger students. And when it’s an occasion like the Mela, during which the young ‘uns have made the teachers immensely proud, it’s even more heart warming. Out on the grounds, I ran into Ms Priyadarshinee Guha, the teacher who inspired my love of History.
“The Art Mela is so much a part and parcel of my being,” she said. “So much has gone into creating this with Mrs Bharadwaj and her tireless effort to put it together. We wanted to support her in every way. We try to bring a new flavour every year, and I think that, to an extent, we succeed in doing that, with the installations, the presentations and the workshops. We are looking for various creative means of expression, and that is what comes through beautifully on this day.”
Mrs Amita Prasad, Vice-Principal, was similarly effusive.
“The students work all through the year and come December, they know that the Art Mela is ’round the corner. It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their achievements through the year. The visitors at the Mela give them that boost of encouragement and appreciation, which is wonderful!” she said.
Going back and meeting these people who helped shape me into who I am today is not just a humbling experience. It’s kind of unbelievable. It’s still hard to register that I’m now as tall as they are. What a weird concept.
Thing #7: The Snack Stalls
Where students gather in large numbers, snacks must follow. I spotted people gulping down pani puri and glasses of soft drinks. Papri chaat, ghugni and cakes were also around. Half the joy is in the snacking, tbh.
Thing #8: Uncompromising creativity
The Art Mela is about the freedom to express oneself. It’s a unique idea and there is nothing quite like it in Kolkata, at least not at the school level. It shows an entirely new dimension of the students: they are not just learners but artists in their own right. And that’s what makes the Mela so special.
Going back to school is always a nostalgia trip.
But the Art Mela is so much more than that. It’s a living thing, the spirit of creativity and expression and fun fused with winter afternoons. It was amazing to go back and even better to find how much it has grown over the years, with the students of the school.
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I’m taking part in Blogmas! For the uninitiated, Blogmas is that wonderful time of the year when a bloggers puts stuff on their beloved intraweb portal every day for the month of December, leading up to Christmas. This is the third day.
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