Blink of an Eye

Outreach workshop for India’s largest public art initiative

Client: Jaya He GVK New Museum

What I did: Learning Experience Design, Programme Development and facilitation, Team lead

Imagine you are transported to an airport. Feel the hustle of a busy airport. The sigh of tired passengers, the smell of insomnia, the sound of anticipation. Now imagine a museum at the airport welcoming disembarking travellers with the colours, traditions, legacy and contemporary expressions of India. With over 5000 original artefacts sourced from the nook and crannies of India and a rich sculptural tableau of a multidisciplinary nature that brought together designers, artists, artisans, architects, art historians, anthropologists and conservators with the best technicians, Jaya He GVK New Museum at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai is India’s largest public art initiative.

‘Blink of an Eye’ was an exploration of the changing perception of public art as we move through contexts, time, and spaces. The education outreach workshop hosted at two different venues – National Gallery of Modern Art, Fort and Bombay Arts Society, Bandra saw participation from 10 schools in Mumbai like R.N Podar, Billabong High International, D.A.V Public school and NGO schools like Akanksha Foundation

With small groups of twenty 12-14-year-old students, the workshop was designed to encourage exploration and interaction with objects, ideas, and themes. Through a range of art objects, slideshows and printed panels from the museum collection students identified the indigenous crafts and materials used to create the work, observed the scale of the work, judged its utility and imagined its thematic interpretation. 

Students challenged the divide between art and craft, discussed the merit of intimate encounter with art versus virtual spectatorship in a digital age and questioned the nature and role of public art in the 21st century. 

Defying the category of what we traditionally call ‘art’, a rapid art making exercise gave wings to the imagination of our young artists who interpreted different thematic stimulus to create a spectacular mixed media artwork! 

While some interpreted an imaginary flying object as a modern high speed machine others imagined ethereal thoughts taking an endless flight! Can a colourful parade only be a procession of kings and queens or could it also be a gathering of colourful birds and clouds in nature? The journey across seven seas was imagined as a literal passage through turbulent and frenzied waters but also as a metaphorical pilgrimage of life! The theme of animals who pull us through was interestingly interpreted as a composite animal that was part cow-part elephant- part horse as the young artist felt that the limited time and paper would not do justice to all the animals she would like to pay a homage to! 

Some of the feedback we received from the teachers and students of the participating schools

Excellent Workshop. Apart from getting to know different forms of art-students learnt how to create an artwork in limited time and materials. More importantly, they learnt how to respect everyone’s perspective and art .

Ms Rajul , Billabong High International school, Santacruz

The workshop was conducted very well. It was a great experience for the kids as well as for me.I will conduct some follow-up session with them. I am also inspired to conduct regular art sessions with them. Thank you. I look forward to attending more workshops .

Pankhuri Anand, Teach For India Class from Sir Sayyad English High school, Mankhurd

I really enjoyed the workshop. I really like the concept and it taught me so much. I learnt how pieces of craft that we see and the public art that we glance at everyday, have come a long way to be there. The session was interactive and engaging. I look forward to attending more such events!

Student, R.N Podar, Santacruz

In the company of these wide-eyed explorers, we learnt to be limitless in our imagination and dreams. 

This programme was designed and facilitated by me during my time as the Education Programme Lead for Flow India, Delhi.