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An art school comes of age

SUNANDA KHANNA


SHASHI WARRIER is conscious of the magnitude of his task. Within his reach are priceless portraits and paintings made by celebrated artists, Ravi Varma, Shekhar Warrier and Ram Warrier (no relatives of his) amongst the many others. Cautiously he touches them to make a careful analysis of the blemishes and blotches that have crept into the canvases over the years. He is aware that even the minute errors in planning or executing a restoration can spell disaster, both for the artwork and the reputation of his institute. Shashi Warrier, principal of the city's Indian School of Arts, is one of the few restorers of ancient paintings in Kochi. He says "even as we have our own techniques there is an ethics of restoration by which we abide." Conservation is a delicate job for two reasons; one, the painting is probably an antique and next, the objet d'art belongs to a collector. The School of Arts at Ravipuram, in Kochi, is celebrating its 13th year of existence. It is one of the few institutes where professionals and hobbyists can learn authentic mural painting and traditional styles of decorative Tanjore painting. Alongside, the school has kept pace with modern trends in the world of art and also runs classes on various subjects such as computer art, calligraphy, linocut and woodcuts, glass painting, miniature painting besides other special fields. The institute also organises study tours, workshops and location works as and when required. Its 10-day art and cultural programme was inaugurated by three eminent personalities, Yesudasan, Poojappura Suku and K.K.Warrier.Over the days, the school hosted painting demonstrations by noted artists T Kaladharan, PV Nandan and Venkittaraman, a talk on `Amoortha Chitrakalayum Aswadhanavom,' by Prof C.S.Jayaram, himself an artist of repute and a class on fundamentals of modern art by Sidharthan. The 40-odd students of art who attended the function also viewed some video shows. Over the years, the school has done some important assignments, at Guruvayoor, 240 sq ft of mural works line the Krishna Temple and scenes depicting the marriage of Rugmini can be seen in Rugmini Kalyanamandapam. In Ernakulam, tales from the life of Krishna are depicted over 300 sq ft of Ravipuram Temple walls; the story of Shibi is on display at the Taj Residency. The school also takes on professional undertakings such as portraits, sculpture and model making.In a bid to encourage art activity in the city the school conducts part time, evening and weekend classes for students, working men and women and housewives. During vacations school and college goers can take advantage of their summer classes. For the economically backward the school offers a free course but expects that the students will pursue the subject at a professional level. The celebrations close on Thursday.

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