SAIIER Annual Report 2014-2015: Kalabhumi Open Art Studio

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Kalabhumi Music Studio
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Kalabhumi Open Art Studio


The Open Art Studio project in Kalabhumi offers a space for a range of art activities to take place. There are regular weekly courses with older students from Transition School and Future School as well as courses for adult students. All projects are led by Nele at the space which includes her art studio, a second attached studio and an outdoor covered area for activities. Equipment and materials are provided to participants. This report is written from the perspective of Nele.

Activities of the year

The open studio project in Kalabhumi has been running successfully for the past 7 years. The courses provide students of all ages with the opportunity to gain experience in art studies in a very well equipped professional artist’s studio. The ongoing classes include art techniques of color theory, composition, drawing, perspective, watercolor sketches, acrylic paint, and more. As the project expanded over the years and the number of participants grew, my studio space was extended to include a second workshop as well as an open working area. These expansions have made it possible to work on big projects such as theatre backdrops and installation work, in addition to the regular courses offered.

Situated in the cultural zone, the studio is accessible on foot or by cycle from several Auroville schools. It is easily reached by the students of both Future School, where my art class is offered as an elective subject, and Transition School, where art classes based at the studio form a part of their curriculum. The two oldest grades of Transition School also come to the studio for bigger art projects such as yearly school plays. In addition to the courses offered to the schools, three afternoons a week are set aside for adult courses.

In this past school year I offered special projects for the 8th grade of Transition School as part of their arts and crafts program. We worked on airbrush technique and painting of murals. We discussed the need for proportion and size of murals, as they have to be visible from far, and explored color theory and the choice of paints for external walls. Murals were done by groups of two students each. It was a very rewarding experience.

With the Future School group we worked on the topics of portraits, color theory and applying different techniques such as charcoal drawing, chiaro scuro, watercolors and acrylic painting. A lot of importance was placed on exploring composition and the technique of perspective to create space in a painting.

With the adult groups we mostly worked on composition and color. We looked at artists like the “Blaue Reiter” group and at the expressionist use of color that does not represent but expresses. We worked on perspective and the space in the painting created through proportion and color. There has been a lot of interest in this topic so we may continue deeper in this study.

I worked with some students on a light projection art project. We are studying a light projection animation program, which will enable us to participate with visual art in music and theater performances. This is ongoing and will be brought forward in the next year.


In the studio I provide classes that develop a range of art techniques as well as encouraging group discussions with the students that delve into understanding the need for a balance of intuition and mind. The courses offer students the possibility to reflect and experiment in a safe space. Assistance is given when needed but students are encouraged to explore freedom of expression and “break through” one’s boundaries, whether they be instilled by oneself or through external judgment.

The Open Studio offers projects that expand and deepen the existing curriculum of schools. For example a student’s poetry presentation might be combined with music and photography, or I might make a presentation on the art of the Renaissance era and its invention of perspective when the students are studying that period of history.

This year some artwork made at the studio by me and by other artists participating in the courses was part of the 2015 Auroville Chennai Festival. Some students/artists also participated in the show “red” at Bharat Nivas, Auroville. I am happy that throughout the courses we have been able to achieve such a high quality and intensity of work and have meaningful discussions on what art is and where we can go with it.


Recently more space has been made available to work on installation and nature artwork, such as inspired by the artist Andy Goldsworthy. This is part of a focus on awareness and sensitivity - to consciously see and recognize what is around us and enhance the beauty through small changes.

There is also more wall space available for murals. This was a very successful project last year and I would like to continue with it further by placing emphasis on the interaction of the wall and its surrounding and using stencil work and different techniques of applying the color (spray, sponge, roller etc.). Some of the students have expressed the wish to work on walls around Auroville, so this could be explored as well.

I am currently in contact with artist from the region to do several public art projects together. These would try to raise awareness for our surroundings and draw out issues of pollution, waste management etc.

In my personal work as an artist I am currently expanding into the field of light projection and digital media, a topic I started to include in the classes this year and which I intend to bring further this coming year. This could lead to potential collaboration with the performing arts sector of Auroville, for example by projecting the backdrop for theatre plays and creating light installations to accompany musical concerts.


This project shares the art studio atmosphere and shares experience and knowledge in the Auroville context. It offers space and guidance to explore the creation of art and the role of the artist.

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Kalabhumi Music Studio
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