Kickstarting an initiative amongst children to experience history and appreciate it with art, a group of history and art aficionados have come together for ‘Richmond Town Diaries’.
Sharanya Iyer, an architect who runs Studio Verge, ideated the project after she was given a grant from India Foundation for the Arts for two months.
“I teach architecture at college and have done projects where students engage with their neighbourhoods and have tried
to understand urban spaces. I started thinking about why not start earlier and help children build a connect with where they grow up. A group of us 10 mothers with children aged between 8 and 9, set out to explore the potential of children learning and emotionally engaging with immediately available layers of the rich past in our neighborhoods, potent study material often excluded from most history texts and school curriculum,” she says.
The group looked at five settings which embodied the memories of 400 years of Richmond Town, from Karemunishwara and Akkitimmenahalli Lake (from the times of Kempagowda) to the Koshys Automatic Bakery (of the mid-1900s).
“We started off with Richmond Town because this was our neighbourhood but I feel it can be a pilot project and can encourage other residents associations to take it up,” she says.
The participants of the project put together observations of old times, including lamp posts and water hydrants, into the artwork.
“One of the places we documented was Johnson Market, which is going to be pulled down soon. The exhibit for the place was done on a ‘figurative
shroud’ (white fabric). Instead of lecturing the children about preserving old places, the experience made them realise this,” says Sharanya.
Harini Kannan, a facilitator at the workshops, observes that such workshops help build camaraderie between children.
“It also boosts their confidence levels and stirs their imagination.”
Geethanjali A R, art trainer at Artville Academy and one of the facilitators at the workshop, says this is a great initiative as children bring out their own ideas and opinions about history and revival of places. “Despite being so young, the art installation they have brought together is phenomenal,” she says.
Children involved with the project say they are excited to be a part of something like this. Ikshvah Rebba, a second-standard student, points out that the workshop included visits to interesting places like Murder Lane.
“The workshop was very educative; it was like a mystery game,” he adds.
Megha Sharat Kumar, a third-standard student, wrote ‘The Bakery Down The Road’, a poem inspired by her visit to Koshy’s Automatic Bakery. “I love learning about places and in this workshop, I could write and draw about the experience too,” she says.
Fourth-standard student Sasha Yogish found the workshop a great space to learn and discuss about her neighbourhood. “I loved visiting Fifi Villa and seeing how it looked different from its earlier avatar,” says Sasha.
The project is supported by the Citizens Welfare Association Richmond and Langford Town. The art show will be held at Auditorium, Richmond Town Park from March 31 to April 7, 8 am to 10 am, 5 pm to 7 pm.
A heritage walk led by the children will be held on March 31, 9 am and 5 pm, April 6 and 7, 5 pm. Women and children will need to cover their heads for mosque visit. For reservations, call 98451 31025, 99720 45903.
Richmond Town Diaries covers places like Fifi Villa, Frank Anthony Junior School, Murder Lane, Koshy’s Bakery, Keremunishwara Temple, Arab Lines and Johnson Market. The locations were chosen keeping diversity in mind.