A Different Perspective:
Wildlife in Art, Craft and Literature- A week all about creativity and curiosity.
“Going Wild” with Veena Basavarajaiah
Week four started off with a movement workshop for adults called ‘Going Wild’, conducted by Veena Basavarajaiah. Staying true to it’s name, the workshop brought out the uninhibited side of all the adults! The session started with an unusual round of introductions, in which every adult was required to enact an animal and the rest were required to mirror the movements. This was followed by a variety of tasks, that included guessing games, to learning the movements of elephants, peacocks and wild boars in KalariPayattu – a unique form of martial arts in which all the actions are based on wild animals. The creative thinking of all the participants shone through when they were asked to pair up and create an animal together. A task that left everyone in splits (literally too) was when the whole group was challenged to create an animal together without any verbal communication. It was a refreshing change to see all the adults act like wild animals on a Saturday morning, a rare sighting in Good Earth 🙂
Art Workshop for Children with Sarada Natarajan
“Close your eyes and think of your favorite animal” said Sharada Natarajan in this very sensual art workshop that was held on Saturday for both the children in GoodEarth as well as Doddabelle. The participants were asked to mimic the sounds of animals such as the Dolphins, Tigers, Parakeets, Deers, Indian Rollers, Lapwings and Sharada’s favorite the Nilgiri Langur. Many pictures were shared and many more sounds were replicated.
The session then continued with a bilingual story that has its roots in many tribal communities. The story revolved around a magical raven and an old man who had captured the sun. The raven who was fed up with the dark world made a plan and brought back the sun. Many tribes like the Hayda in Canada and Australia considered animals like ravens as their guardians and used totem poles for protection around their territory.
The 18 children were then split into 4 groups to make their very own totem pole. All the children enjoyed the process thoroughly by making an owl, elephant, lion and a barbet that is displayed inside Courtyard Koota. The children learnt many skills like planning and designing by the end of the session!
Origami with Sagar, Prakruthi and Sangeetha
Sagar, the cheerful and friendly staff member from Footprints is an art and origami enthusiast. To share the knowledge he has learnt over the years to the kids in and around this neighborhood he conducted a multilingual origami session where he taught them to make two different kinds of snakes – the Crate in black resembling the original colour of the animal and the Russell’s Viper in maroon.
23 children were then given a very interactive and knowledgeable presentation about the Crate, Russell’s viper and the spectacled cobra. Many pictures were then shared and information was given on how to differentiate between some common snakes found around.
At first it was the Crate and the Wolf snake, where both look almost identical – black with white stripes but the venomous Crate’s stripes are in pairs and the non-venomous Wolf snake’s aren’t. Next, was the diamond patterned Russell’s Viper. Lastly, the session ended with the differentiation of the magnificent Spectacled Cobra and a Bat snake – the difference being that the venomous Cobras have a mark on their hood and the non-venomous Bat snakes have small stripes on the tail and under eye.
Sagar proudly adds that after a lot of training he can distinguish between venomous and non-venomous snakes and can even come to rescue snakes when called to.
Wild Malhar Diaries – Labour of Love – Debabrata Bagchi
The first ‘Wild Malhar Diaries’ for this weekend was given by Debabrata Bagchi, who took us through his journey of observing the nesting behaviour of the Baya Weaver bird. The male Baya birds build their nests in order to attract the females. From a single knot to decorating the nest to giving way (if the nest is abandoned) to white-rumped Munias, the talk was an absolute visual delight as the audience got to witness the stunning pictures he had captured on his journey of observing the building of the nest!
When Species Meet: Animal Encounters in Art – Sarada Natarajan
Sarada Natarajan has taught art history and theory at the Fine Arts and Theatre Arts departments of the University of Hyderabad for nearly fourteen years. Her areas of interest include ancient and medieval Indian sculpture and art historiography. Her talk, ‘When Species Meet’ gave us a glimpse into the fascinating intersection of art, history and wildlife. It was astonishing to see how different cultures around the world had similar depictions and stories of nature, when civilisations were remote and disconnected. She also discussed the influence of politics on art by citing the example of the conflict between the ‘Shaivites’ and ‘Vaishnavites’ in South India. She delved into the interesting difference in the way bulls and buffalos are depicted due to societal factors. The talk ended with the portrayal of some beautiful miniature art from the Mughal period. An underlying theme throughout the talk was about hybrid animals and sculptures that depicted the combination of man and animal. Keeping with this spirit, the audience grouped up and sketched out four original hybrid animals on paper after the talk!
Tree walk with Lovely George
Everyone put on their walking shoes and thinking caps for the informative tree-walk conducted by Lovely George, a hands- on planter who is responsible for the stunning gardens at Good Earth. The walk was through some of the clusters in Footprints and everyone gobbled up all the knowledge they could. From the scientific names of the trees, to their medicinal and domestic uses, a lot was discussed. It was interesting to observe how the trees planted in the community maintained a fascinating balance of aesthetics and utility. Overall, a ‘tree-mendous’ start to the morning!
Exploring with Kenneth Anderson by Satish Sukumar
The talk, ‘Exploring with Kenneth Anderson’, by Satish Sukumar, runner, birder and an ardent wildlife enthusiast, gave everyone an insightful look into the life of Kenneth Anderson. Anderson was a British writer and naturalist who spent his life exploring the jungles of South India. Satish revealed how he chanced upon Anderson’s work in a library during a holiday and has been captivated by the man’s work and journey ever since. He narrated two of Anderson’s stories: ‘The Call of the Man Eater’ and The Spotted Devil of Gumlapur. In addition to how gripping the stories are, Satish shared that the message of listening to your own gut in dire situations is something that shines through in Anderson’s writings. Everyone left the talk with a better understanding of Anderson and a compelling urge to read his work!
Wild Malhar Diaries – Civets of Malhar by Satish
“The first time I heard about civets was in Malaysian civet poo coffee” Satish Sukumar says on a humorous note. This particular Malhar diaries session was very engaging and informative as he spoke about the civet cats of Malhar.
The civets are not cats, they are Viverrids. There are a total of 8-9 species of civets in india. The one that is found in malhar is long bodied, has shaggy hair, a white mask and stripes and spots on the body. This beautiful and very cute animal is nocturnal and very loud if unseen. The session then continued with Satish narrating two of his encounters with civets. And one was right outside his house with a mother and 3 pups.
Lastly, he answered some very common questions like ‘will they kill?’ or ‘will they transmit diseases?’. He said civets are very peaceful animals that shy away a lot. Their diet also comprises fruits, palm sap and berries like coffee:) they have no intention of killing. But as residents we should prevent any harm from happening to them.
Nature-inspired Design with Ulhas Anand
The last talk of the weekend was by Ulhas Anand who is a product manager as well as a naturalist. He has conducted many experiential bird walks for 30 years with a group in Bangalore. He has also started a company called EcoEdu to raise awareness and to share their knowledge about the natural world.
He started off with evolution and how humans have made everything evolve from the beginning of time but nature has survived for around 3.8 billion years without any change in its ways or species. Ulhas spoke about mutation, gene flow and genetic drift to conceptualise how variety evolved. He gave many examples of mating but one that was very fascinating was of the fruit fly and how these flies have upto a 100 generations a year!
The next part of the talk was about habitats and adaptations. He spoke about the diversity of our country and how humans and animals adapt to their habitat. We were also informed about three different kinds of evolution – coevolution, parallel evolution and convergent evolution. This is when he brings up the topic of nature inspired design. He gave many examples and talks about how so many products that we use today are nature inspired, like the bullet trains, stealth for the military, batman, air conditioning, many different aspects of technology and the most common: airplanes!
Lastly, Ulhas spoke about the use and throw economy and how we can improve and try to think differently. He then reminisces about his past and says “a lot of things we didn’t believe could happen then happened now”. He spoke about what next and what more we can do by sharing a lot of resources. “The end of life for something is the beginning for something else” – the session ended with a lively discussion and question answer session which invoked a new sense of thinking in all the participants.