Learning art the easy way -Gowri S,THE HINDU

This first-of-its-kind art incubation centre has a mentor to guide you, irrespective of your age or expertise

Buried in the corridors of Gems Court in Khader Nawaz Khan road, is a quaint office space with a few cabins adorned with artworks — some of them are works in progress, while the others have travelled to different shows across the country. I am met by children, immersed in their sketching, drawing and painting; a staff instructor in tow.

One of them is Dinesh, a child from the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu (SPASTN) who has been taken under the wing of the collective. “He doesn’t like to be taught. So I sneak up to him sometimes to casually throw some suggestions around,” says Kalpana Yuvarraaj, artist and founder trustee of Artists’ Conclave Foundation as she shows me around the facility, called an art incubation centre. A first of its kind in South India, the centre aims to provide a platform for anyone to learn and practise visual arts.

“This isn’t just a hobby, art enables a person to look at things differently and appreciate the beauty in everything,” says Kalpana, who chanced upon the idea of an incubation centre while in New York, visiting the Fashion Institute of Technology. “I saw that they had an incubation centre where students could come and earn a few credits. They did not enroll for a six-month or a one-year-course; they could come for any period of time and come back again if need be,” observed Kalpana, who was intrigued by the unusual flexibility of the course.

When Kalpana moved to Chennai from Bengaluru 35 years back, this was not an option. As a young mother of three children, she often found it difficult to consistently practise art for long periods of time. This led to the idea of an incubation centre where people of all ages are encouraged to practise art as and when they please.

Artists’ Conclave Foundation also aims to provide sponsorships to those who cannot afford the classes; they can become an incubatee for a period of six months, following which they will be given an opportunity to take part in the art shows organised by Artitude, the exhibition wing of the collective. “I have a three-year-old child and a 72-year-old gentleman learning from me. People of different professional backgrounds, with an interest in pursuing art, are most welcome,” continues Kalpana.

“We have decided to sponsor six incubatees in a year. Currently, we have two children from the Spastics society, two transwomen and two human trafficking survivors,” says Kalpana. This is another social cause taken up by the conclave, which in 2016, had launched an initiative ‘A Million Smiles’, under which workbooks featuring original works of artists like AV Ilango, Gargi Sen, and James Manickam were distributed to under-privileged children. “As of now, 12,000 copies have been distributed and we are looking for sponsors who could help with the printing of the next batch,” adds Kalpana.

The art incubation centre will regularly convene an ‘Artist of the Fortnight’ programme where a senior artist will mentor those interested for two weeks. From November 1 to 14, James Manickam will be the artist of the fortnight. Contact Kalpana Yuvarraj at 9841024078 or artistscnclave@gmail.com

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