Aparna S Deshpande

Arts Education

Grant Period: Over one year

This grant supports Belgaum-based artist and art teacher Aparna Deshpande to introduce and execute the concept of kitchen garden and to bring miniature style of painting for documenting the Indian local farming calendar. The project will take place at the Government Primary School in Vijayanagar, Belgaum.

Aparna and her husband are practicing farmers for the past 15 years. Although they did not come from an agricultural background, they were keen on farming. They bought a piece of land in Belgaum and started experimenting with it. Over the years, they developed a system of journal writing where they documented their experiments with their cattle farm and kitchen garden. This diary has become a guide for reference of their work history. 

A few months ago, Aparna heard about the arts education project that included a wall painting in the government school in Vijayanagar, Belgaum. This was another IFA-supported project that Blaise Joseph and Athreyee Dey were working on. Aparna found this work very inspiring and was encouraged to put together a project idea where she could work with the children from the same school. 

The school, interestingly, has both Marathi and Kannada medium sections. This means that the children come from different language and cultural backgrounds. Hence it provides an exciting opportunity to explore and celebrate linguistic and cultural differences. Supported by this grant, Aparna will introduce the concept of a kitchen garden in the school. The activities will start with the English calendar and develop into a local agricultural calendar. Based on the seasons, the students will grow the local variety of herbs, plants and vegetables. The children will engage with local farmers and farming practices, mainly through direct interactions and by folk songs, stories and vocabulary. Theatre activities and the school Santhe (local market) will further provide opportunities to connect with the land / soil through games. These activities will also ensure community participation. Aparna was exposed to the Rajasthani miniature painting tradition as a child. She therefore wishes to bring in this element too into the project. The miniature painting style will be used to document the local farming calendar.

The outcomes of this project will be the kitchen garden patch in the school, the local calendar and a series of performances built around farming practices of the region. The Grantee will deposit still and video documentation of the process as deliverables to IFA. 

This grant was made possible with support from Citi India.