Bringing Indigenous Artists into the Form of the Book

Tara is an independent publisher of illustrated books for children and adults based in Chennai, South lndia. For almost 20 years, we’ve worked with a range of folk and tribal artists and art traditions from across India. Our aim has been to bring these indigenous artists into the form of the book, not as subjects but as authors and illustrators.
Many of these art traditions are believed to have originated from floor decorations and wall murals in homes or community spaces, as well as from indigenous tattoo practices. Over a period of time – and as a consequence of several historical interventions – artists began to paint on paper and canvas. Today individual artists look out for new opportunities and are eager to experiment. They see their traditions as dynamic, rather than static and look to embrace new mediums. At Tara we work with them closely to conceptualise and create books. The book form offers them a radical opportunity but also poses challenges. Our workshops help mediate this challenge.
Before coming up with a workshop plan, we research and think through the potential of a tradition, as well as that of an individual artist working in that tradition. Community artists are united by particular styles of rendering, but there are many individual differences as well. What does the rendering focus on? What does it do best? Is the art narrative or conceptual? Biographical or fictional? Is a particular artist more comfortable with traditional narratives or eager to explore new themes?
While the content is taking shape, we also think about the form of the book: what would be the best way of presenting this material? In the workshops, we discuss these questions, from a conceptual as well as practical point of view and come up with specific book projects. Through this process, we play a curatorial role – and ensure that art, story, design and printing come together in integral ways.

Friday 1 June 2018
5pm – 6pm
Alice Springs Public Library
Venue details & map »