Sunday, Aug 07, 2022 14:00 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Aug 07, 2022 08:33 [IST]

Can positive engagement with arts and crafts help towards promoting better mental and environmental health?

SAIKUT BASU

Art is a manifestation of expressions inside us as human beings. From time immemorial, from the very dawn of human civilizations; art and crafts has been associated with human society and humanity. From the cave paintings of our ancient ancestors through artefacts collected across the world from pre historic ages to Copper, Iron and Bronze Ages; human ingenuity and art expressions have taken different forms at different corners of the planet. From the Toltec, Aztec, Mayan and Inca civilizations of continental America to the awe inspiring civilizations of Indus Valley, China, Egypt, Babylon, Greek and the Romans; art has always been associated with human socio-cultural history at every stage of our evolution from our anthropoid ape ancestors to present day modern humans. From the Classical Age to Modern and to our Post Modern era, art has taken shapes in various formats in different societies across the globe. Art and humans are integrated together and are truly inseparable.
 
I am not a professional artist by training; nor do I claim to be an amateur artist in form. I have virtually no formal or informal training in arts and crafts; although I always enjoyed visiting art galleries from a very young age. I had no idea or concept about primitive or modern art in any form as I am trained abs educated in Science and my research areas interface with Life Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Environmental Sciences. My only formal exposure to arts and crafts has been at the primary abs secondary levels of education like any other student representing that period.
 

I never showed any talent as a good painter, sculptor or calligraphy artist. In fact my drawings have been horrible and till date could not even sketch a full human figure with any perfection. My drawing exposures and talents has been mostly associated with preparing diagrams, graphics, maps, schematic flow charts and figurative sketches for my practical classes from my primary to tertiary level of education. But art history as a subject has always intrigued me and global art forms representing different ages, genders, styles and expressions has always fascinated me. I always enjoyed visiting art galleries, museums, archaeological sites, ancient and modern architecture; and enjoyed looking at sculptures and paintings by great Masters across the globe.

Photography has been my passion from my school days; and has still been one of most passionate hobbies. I have experimenting with the use of light, photo framing, camera angles and lenses for quite sometime. A vast section of my photographs are for the purpose of scientific and historic records and documentation. However, over the years I have been engaged in artistic photography and while in Canada this hobby took special turn in developing into my passion. It is during this time in Canada my passion for art through serendipity took me towards experimenting with various media, resources, tools and software to work on producing unique designs for purely my own entertainment purpose.

However, over time as I perfected the techniques and methods for producing my unique designs, memes and doodles through trial and error; I did finally realize the true value of it. I have received many awards and recognitions for my photography in Canada, India and at international platforms. But I have never explored the opportunities of a creative designer. This in fact is the first publication of my humble artworks and designs in the past five to six years.

Organized by HO Chi Minh Sarani, ECHO (Organization for Education, Counseling and Helping) a Kolkata based NGO on 24th July 2022, Sunday, ICCR “ PRERONA" (inspiration) an arts and crafts exhibition to empower artists with their creativity and a special skill like saree making along with beautiful artworks, paintings, crafts, and beaded jewelry and recycled products. It is going to hold this beautiful initiative in collaboration with other organizations like (Casa-dei-Bambini-CDB, The Science Association of Bengal-SAB, Gobardanga Gobeshona Parshad-GGP, Center for Multidisciplinary Research and Action-CMRA). Thirteen people are participating in this event. The participants are – Sutpa Basu, Saikat Kumar Basu, Piyali Nandi, Asmi Chowdhury, Jayita Chaki, Santwana Basu, Suhan Mondal, Neha Ghosh, Ankita Saha, Vikram Mitra, Pompa Banerjee, Tilottoma Dey and Sutapa Bardhan.

ECHO, is primarily a mental health organization that works on mental health and wellbeing and promotes happiness, self-esteem and motivation and ways to stay mentally healthy through such engaging events. Helps and stimulates to reduce depression, anxiety, depression of our modern life. As an organization ECHO is constantly striving to improve the role of women in society and the lives of women through various aspects. They help and work towards empowering women by providing them with proper training and becoming economically self-reliant. Teaching them arts and crafts to help them economically is one of the main objectives of ECHO and hence the organization has a dominant presence of women artists representing different socio-economic strata.

Arts and crafts are not just a creative activity for us; But through colour and creativity helps transform life through simple ways of life. It is to organize an arts and crafts exhibition in addition to a series of workshops to connect ECHO members with the wider society. When currently our world is set towards a path of uncertainty, war and instability, pandemic, famine and draughts, failing economy, helplessness, corruption and nepotism; it is quite natural for people to be depressed or frustrated over life. Diseases and ailments related to mental depression, anxiety, hypertension, high blood pressure, high sugar and cholesterol levels in blood has been seriously impacting the quality of our lives.

It is at this crucial juncture we need to learn to stay better, mentally strong, determined and focused. One important way for solace is positive engagements to keep our mind occupied outside our professional and domestic life. We need peace, serenity and tranquility for qualitative improvement of our life efforts. What could thus be a best possible opportunity to engage oneself with arts and crafts. It may work for a number of people suffering from anxiety, depression and frustration or challenges of anger management or hypertension to be engrossed with the beauty of arts, crafts and architecture.

This international exhibition at ICCR has this been a demonstration of ‘Celebration of Life’ through inspiration (PRERONA), a central theme to encourage people in our society to engage positively with arts and crafts to have a better exposure towards the positivity of life. The artworks captured various moods of our ecology and environment, society and societal practices, socio-cultural and religious activities, sociology-political life, wildlife, nature, women empowerment? urban and rural life, creative designs, BioArt, EnviroArt, memes, cartoons, portraits, photographs, wood work, engraving, metal leaching, to velvet, sand, coloured stones, glitters as well as used of shoal, thermocol, discarded wastes converted into art objects, artistic jewellery, boutique products and even nature based products such as cutleries, cups, plates, jewellery boxes, files and bagels made from water hyacinth stem, jute, cotton and other eco-friendly environmental products.

Most of the performing artists were all untrained and belong to different profession such as research and academics, business professionals to seasoned Information Technology experts. Students, teachers, professors, journalists, medicos, lawyers, writers and even home makers joined this unique exhibition with outstanding artworks that mesmerized both guests, visitors and the audience. The evening of July 26th at ICCR remained a memorable event with art exhibition, erudite lectures on mental health and it’s association with arts and crafts, book release programs, felicitation ration of honoured guests such as eminent physician Dr. Kajol Krishna Banik and Dr. Sukanya Banerjee Banik, Buddhist scholar and researcher Dr. Sumanapal Bhikkhu, Management guru Prof Unus Molla, Botanist Prof Stephen Cheriyl as well as socialite like Ms. Sikha Basu, artist and teacher  Ms. Sutapa Basu and science communicators like Dr. Subhabrata Roy Chowdhury and Mr. Dipak Dan.

The mixed crowd of audience representing kids, school going as well as college and university students together with professionals and home makers from every corner of the society was a big bonus for the organizers. Since it was an unique exhibition to demonstrate how arts and crafts could play a positive role towards developing positive mental health; the spectrum of audience was truly monumental. The great participation together with an informal platform provided for artists as well as the audience created a very soothing platform of exchange between various members of our society. We look forward towards more such positive interactions through engagement for our society in the coming days. Thanks to all the organizers for their outstanding work, encouragement and effort that was greatly appreciated!

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi