I try not to miss a visit to an exhibition or a fair. More so – an art exhibition or a book fair. There’s so much for a child (heck, there’s so much for me!) to capture in such spaces – the sights, the sounds, the opportunities to interact, ask questions, get questioned in turn, click pictures, come back and reflect on. And….
….and, the lively conversations that Pari and I have – on site. Yes, through these conversations, we learn, debate, explore, contemplate, educate, clarify, form a perspective, and understand each other’s perspective.
In this riot of colours and images, a child will capture and learn much more than she’d in a classroom – with a bag-full of text books.
Above all, we learn to see from the lens of an artist or a writer.
Sharing some breathtaking art that we spotted (and curated) at the book fair – from around the world in Children’s literature. Also, snippets of conversation between Pari and me, while we were soaking in all that creativity.
The weather had warmed up but it was raining books the whole of last week at the Delhi World Book Fair. There was no other place I wanted to be more desperately than the Fair grounds at Pragati maidan. Yet, I sort of knew what it would be like – going there with Sufiana. All that crowd, cold wind, pollution (well, don’t you know – Delhi tops the list of top 10 polluted cities in the world), demanded me to keep my emotions under control.
Yet, I ended up surrendering to my emotions (actually, ‘addiction’. Yes, I’m addicted to book fairs.), and we found ourselves surrounded by - well, books ofcourse. But also the most eye-catching and alluring sea of artwork in the Children’s book section. Actually, section is not the right word, for it was a massive, massive hall dedicated to Children’s literature from India and from around the world.)
The World Book Fair encompassed a range of genres and not just Children’s literature. But, knowing that we’d be able to afford just a few hours with Sufiana, we headed straight to Hall No: 7 – for Children’s books. The fact that it was a week day, helped beat the weekend crowd.
The books – they were all there. Millions and zillions of books, as far as the eyes could see.
But, what stood out for me – bright and alive and larger than life – was the art.
Delicate water colour work, comic book art, graphic art, charcoal sketches, collages, subtle pencil work – it was as though art and colour and shapes and figures were flying past my eyes no matter which way I turned my head!
I felt a surge of energy take over my spirit at the sight of the giant displays of artwork (from books).
Pari and I felt engulfed and engrossed simultaneously with all that larger-than-life creativity. The child in me was breaking free; feasting her eyes on the playful, colourful, wild imagination of the artists.
After hibernating for months since Sufiana’s birth, Pari and I felt as though we had come alive like the butterflies in summer time (ah, isn’t there a song on similar lines – “moth in summer-time”).
With Sufiana cradled in one arm, I was clicking away with Pari’s point-and-shoot camera with my right hand. Thank God for my big and stable hands, I had more than two dozen pictures – without the slightest shake/blur.
It was the Poland booth where I hung out most of the time.
So gorgeous was their booth, and so enchanting – the art on their books. I was almost hopping with enthusiasm taking Pari (and sometimes Avie) around to each nook and corner of that space.
Every single wall in the booth was adorned with illustrations and pictures (by Polish artists).
Even the text (surrounding some of the artwork) was a piece of art in itself.
The 20 illustrators that the exhibitors from Poland showcased, are brilliant, to say the least.
I’d recommend checking out these talented Polish artists/illustrators/writers:
- Joanna Olech – A true artistic authority in Polish children’s literature.
- Marianna Oklejak: Illustrated an extremely popular series of books for preschool-aged children. Check out her blog.
- Marta Ignerska: Known as the Pablo Picasso of Polish illustration. Her blog.
- Elzbieta Wasiuczynska: She’s illustrated over 20 books, including the well-loved series devoted to the adventures of “Mr. Ball”. She paints, sews and makes models out of plasticine and paper. Check out her works made with unusual techniques.
- Joanna Concejo: Her books are always on serious topics – which are intensified by the subtle lines of her pencil. Check out her blog to see her poetic artwork.
- Iwona Chmielewska: Is the author of poetic, ephemeral collages packed full of meaning. Is highly appreciated through out the world. She says, it is possible to dream up a book about any topic at all.” And she does.
Yesterday, at the book fair, surrounded by all that art, text, pictures and smell of fresh paper – Pari and I explored, discussed and wondered all this and more…
Sharing some snatches from the conversation she and I exchanged!
Pari, did you see this picture – all that white space around the art. Makes it look so neat.
Mamma, over there! That pillar made of just books! Can we do something like that at home!
Pari, what an interesting art wall! Wait, I think I can make one too, at home. We need to get some bamboos.
See that map with all the pictures? We could do that for our city…
Just silhouettes! Wow Pari – what a coincidence! Weren’t we talking about making silhouette art just yesterday!
Hey Pari, this picture – don’t you think it’s so powerful in black and white? Or, would you have preferred colour?
Hey mamma, look at this text. Isn’t the font interesting? Wait, I’ll click a photo so I can learn to write in this style.
And, we go on and on!
Pari bought two books – the Campfire graphic novels. I bought four posters.
She bought one diary. I brought home a catalogue (free, free!) from the Poland booth. (it’s for sure my most precious possession in recent times.)
Together we captured 87 pictures – of art, people, the drive (inside the car and outside), food court and Sufiana.
And, each picture has got at least one story behind it.
Learning, learning everywhere, not a moment to spare.
Art allows children to represent real objects, events, and feelings. It is a needed outlet for children whose vocabulary, written or verbal, may be limited (de la Roche, 1996). The early use of symbols in artwork provides a foundation for children’s later use of words to symbolize objects and actions in formal writing.
I was reading up about some well-known curators, and the words of Thelma Golden struck the chord for me. They really hit home the point I wanted to convey above when I said (about visiting an exhibition as a parent – with my child), “through these conversations, we learn, debate, explore, contemplate, educate, clarify, form a perspective, and understand each other’s perspective.”
This is what Thelma Golden says about her work as a curator:
The privilege I’ve had as a curator is not just the discovery of new works… but what I’ve discovered about myself and what I can offer in the space of an exhibition – to talk about beauty, to talk about power, to talk about ourselves, and to talk and speak to each other.
Listen to her TED talk where she talks through three art shows that explore how art examines and redefines culture.
P.S: Some more artful picks from the Delhi World Book Fair.
“Can writing change anything? Yes.
I believe profoundly that it does.
Without this faith, I wouldn’t
be able to write.”
I resonate with the thought above – by Ryszard Kapuściński - Polish reporter, journalist, traveller, photographer, poet and writer whose dispatches in book form brought him a global reputation.