Odhisa, the land of art and craft and culture, had always been in my bucket list, so the invitation to participate in the International Painting Symposium in Odisha, was a great opportunity for me that would not miss. The symposium was held from 12 -22 January 2019 which was hosted by Sri Sri University. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of Sri Sri University has also been the source of motivation in my life.
This year, the symposium had three artists from Nepal; Samjhana Rajbhandari, Satya Shila Kashajoo and myself, Sandhya Silwal along with 17 other artists from different countries like Vietnam, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, France and India. Our journey from Kathmandu to Odisha began on the 11th of January, with a night halt in Delhi. We reached Odisha on 12th January and then an hour drive to the University, where we were warmly welcomed by the students. The University is located in a very quiet place with a river surrounding which made it even more peaceful and provided a sense of in-built positive energy all around. Mrs. Shama Sondhi, the conceptualizer and curator of the camp and HOD of Visual and Performing Arts department, Mr. Ravinder Singh arranged all our required comfort and was present throughout. A big multipurpose hall inside the university was provided to us as a communal studio for 10 days and whole art camp was volunteered by the students with enthusiasm to learn more.
On the 12 January, was the grand inauguration ceremony, in presence of Dr. Prasanna Patasani, Member of Parliament, and Mr. Manas Ranjan Jena, Secretary of Odisha Lalit Kala Academy as the guests of honor. The event was a perfect blend of visual and performing arts with all the faculties and students from Visual and Performing Arts department. The inauguration ceremony concluded with the demonstration of Gurudev’s portrait by Mr. Manas Ranjan Jena and the handover of the canvases to all the artists to initiate the work.
All the artists, placed under one roof, provided us the opportunity to know each other more closely. In addition, different programs arranged during the symposium, for instance, presentations on our work every evening helped us learn about each other’s art work and working pattern even better. It was interesting to see how every artist was unique with their works. We completed our work by 18 January, and on the 19th was a grand celebration for closing ceremony in presence of Ms. Rajita Kulkarni, president of Sri Sri University along with other members of the University. We also had Mr. Abasar Beuria, IFS officer and Former Ambassador for America and Mr. Yusuf, Director of Bihar Museum as our guest of honor for the day. A presentation was made on the Bihar Museum and all our art works were displayed in the hall for observation and we thoroughly enjoyed the variations of the art works.
After the successful completion of the camp, was our time to relax, explore, travel and learn. Odisha, being famous for its art, craft, vivid culture, wonderful temples, magnificent monuments and thrilling beaches, University arranged different sightseeing tours to these places for us. What interested me the most was the Kala Bhoomi, Odisha Crafts Museum. The museum had 8 different sections in the gallery, with terracotta, traditional painting stone and wood carving, metal crafts, natural material crafts, pre-weaving techniques, tribal crafts to handlooms gallery which in fact covered all the art and craftsmanship of people of Odisha. Best part was, the ‘Ekamra Walks’, the weekly walk program at Kala Bhoomi to let people explore through the galleries of preserved artifacts in a guided manner. Same day we also visited a sculpture garden which was the outcome of an international sculpture symposium few months back. Grand sculptures made out of junk materials were another attraction for us.
Next day, we visited the famous historical monument Konark Sun Temple, which is a must see place and highly recommended. This 13th century Sun temple is believed to be dedicated to Hindu God Surya with many stories behind the creation of this temple. It’s basically in the form of chariot with numbers of wheels and horses and is immensely beautiful with each stone carved very intricately. We also managed to visit other two historical places Udayagiri and Dhauli Shanti Stupa. Udayagiri is a big rocky mountain with many man-made caves in it where as Dhauli Shanti Stupa has its importance from the belief in history that Emperor Ashoka dedicated his life towards Buddhism with all his weapons left behind in here. Lastly, three of us from Nepal also grabbed the opportunity to visit Jagannath Temple in Puri, since we were so close to the place. Two BFA students Membi and Snigdha guided us to the temple on the last day of the camp.
Overall, these 10 days camp in Odisha was a package of fun, learning, exploring and knowing people. Last but not the least; we were highly obliged by the hospitality and acquaintance given by Mr. Ravinder Singh, HOD of Visual and Performing Arts Department. On behalf of our team, I take this opportunity to thank all the teachers and students who made this camp a success. It was indeed one of the best moments of my life.
Saying good bye has never been easy but with heart full of good memories we waved good bye to all the artists and in fact we were the last ones to leave the University.
By Sandhya Silwal