ART BY CHILDREN
The Art By Children (ABC) initiative develops the educational mandate of the Kochi Biennale Foundation and works primarily with children, but also with teachers and parents. ABC includes workshops in schools as part of the Art Room programme, special exhibition activities, including guided tours, for school-children during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the internet-based Learning At Home programme and the annual summer camp in Fort Kochi.
Art Room is the principal programme of ABC. This workshops programme began with one school in Mattancheri in 2017 and has expanded to seven schools in Kochi and adjoining regions. Here, one room in each of the participant schools becomes a dedicated ‘art room’ available for children throughout. The art rooms are activated weekly by the ABC team through workshops for children. Also part of the programme is a community Art Room at Pepper House, which will be available for workshops for school-children from all schools in the Fort Kochi-Mattancheri region.
LEARNING AT HOME PROGRAMME
The Learning at Home programme has been developed as an alternative to the regular school-based Art Room projects of the ABC programme in this pandemic situation. The objective has been to continue engagement with children in the spirit of the ABC programme, but adapted to this new situation that they find themselves in.
With the At-Home programme, the internet is employed primarily as a means of communication than as the site of teaching and learning itself. The exercises are simple, offline activities that take as their substance the present circumstances of children – that they are at home. The physical space of their home, everyday activities like cleaning and eating, their guardians, siblings and neighbours – these become the subjects of the art activities of the Learning at Home programme. Sample modules in the At-Home programme are given below.
Living Space 1: Exploring natural surroundings
The objective of the first module is to encourage participants to explore their immediate surroundings, to document what these surroundings encompass, study the various textures and the variety of marks one can make by observing nature.
Living Space 2: Creating colours and tools from nature
As an extension of the earlier module, participants venture further to collect and document found natural objects from their immediate surroundings. These found objects are then used to create pigments as well as mark-making tools.
Portraits: Know your family and friends
Participants are introduced to portraits created by various artists over the years. The module discusses the various styles and techniques of portrait-making, and how participants can visually narrate the story of their sitters. Participants document their engagement and conversations with their family in the process of creating their portraits.
Home: Designing personal spaces
This module focuses on the interiors of the home— intimate spaces, objects that hold meaning or value. Participants observe and document these spaces and their inhabitants, while journalling about the memories and associations that these hold.
Futures:: Imagining a future vegetable garden in the neighbourhood
This module discusses the possibilities of a sustainable future and growing one’s own food locally. Participants are encouraged to think about where their food comes from and map these sources, they also audit the food items at home for the month while journalling the conversations with members of their family around food and sustainability.