Two weeks ago I went to Art Ichol to drop a catalogue for a friend of mine. I always enjoy the 2.5 hours ride from Madla to Maihir, it’s beautiful landscape and only a few cars are on the road. The motorbike knows its way, so the ride is almost like a meditation session for me. Art Ichol is an escape – unlike the rural village life it’s a high profile intellectual island in the heart of rural India. During most of my visits I meet interesting people there – even when the founder, Ambica Beri, is not present. And so it happened this time.

I ran into Blaise Schwartz, a French painter, who spent the last three years in western China. Very interesting young artist who is visiting India for the first time. He is spending four weeks at Art Ichol – it’s an artist in residence program. During this time he will experiment with ceramics.

Then I re-connected with Milan Singh who is a ceramist at Art Ichol for almost three years. He is a graduate of Benares Hindu University and loves teaching people the art of clay. He has been teaching two of our Janwaar kids, Karan and Shivraj, who frequently came to Janwaar.

And then I re-connected with Surendra Rao whom I met two years ago and whose work I really admire. Especially his “simple” black and white drawings on off-white hand made paper. He certainly belongs to the top circles of Indian contemporary artists. Rao is so down to earth and there is nothing he enjoys more than sweets and rural villages – I guess. He is always smiling and his glass is always half full, never half empty.

I had a fabulous time with these three very different artists. Over dinner and breakfast and during a painting session with Rao we all decided that they would soon come to Janwaar.

A snap shot during my painting session with Surendra Rao in Maihir

Less than a week after my Art Ichol visit the three of them made it to Janwaar. They joined me on my way back from Bombay and caught the train I was in, in Maihir. In Satna we all left and took a taxi to Janwaar. And an exciting two days started.

Immediately the three connected with the kids and engaged them into drawing sessions. We transformed the skateboards into drawing tables and the session started. The kids loved it and the energy was flying high. Once they overcame their first doubts and shyness their sheets filled quickly with all different kind of motifs.

Rao decided to use their drawings as basis for the next longer workshop in Janwaar where we will paint the walls and stairs surrounding the new skatepark. A huge “canvas” will come into life!

We had a great time, well spent. And we are looking forward to our next endevour in Janwaar. The plans are already made … it’s all about ceramics and painting the walls! I am excited ….

Skateboards turned into drawing tables – Surendra Rao (right)
It took the kids a while to get started
… but once they started, it wa svery hard to stop them
During the session more and more kids joined
The morning session at the Villa – meditation to start with
Fully concentrated ….
Time for a break – Milan (left) and Blaise enjoyed the Decathlon bicycles. They roamed around in the villages close by …

One thought to “A visit from Art Ichol”

  • blaise

    Thanks to you Ulrike, to all the kids and everybody for your welcoming! This is a great project that you are accomplishing in Janwaar, and I am sure it will be become even better, due the implication I saw in the kids themselves. The new skate park will be a new area!


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