Nandan Mela 2011: A Fair with Flair
by Bala Karchaudhuri
Santiniketan. An art fair arranged in an art college campus turns out to be successful by a lot of positive efforts by the students and the teachers and by maintaining good understanding as a collective. Nandan Mela is not an exception. Nandan Mela is the annual art fair of Santiniketan organised by Kala Bhavana. The fair is held on the 1st and 2nd of December followed by an early morning Baitalik (prayer) and a picnic on the 3rd December celebrating the birth anniversary of Nandalal Bose.
Nandan Mela brings about great possibilities for the students to experiment and work on new ideas. Year after year, Nandan Mela encourages the students to be absorbed in a celebratory ambience as well as address the issue of bringing art close to the community.
Nandan Mela began in the year of 1973, when a student's accident caused a serious crisis of funds. The students and the teachers then decided to set up a sale of their art works in the form of a fair. The teacher of the sculpture department Ajit Chakrabarty, a former faculty of Fine Arts of the MS University of Baroda, was the first person to give the proposal of the art fair. The plan was hugely supported and approved by Somnath Hore and Dinkar Kowshik, the two leading personalities of Kala Bhavana.
The first art fair in Kala Bhavana was a big success. The profits were saved as the 'students' aid and welfare funds'. Moreover it served beyond its purpose of just raising funds. In fact the fair made art accessible for the common people as its plan was to sell art objects in reasonable prices. Also its festive appearance welcomed quite a lot of people. Thereafter this art fair was named 'Nandan Mela' and was decided to be held on the two days preceeding the birth anniversary of Nandalal Bose as a regular event.
Through the four decades Nandan Mela has experienced drastic transformations and as time passed, the fair started taking a bigger formation and it opened the way for the larger art-loving public and professional art collectors across the country. Consequently, this liberal temperament kept on manipulating the fair visibly.
As usual, this year Nandan Mela filled joy and enthusiasm within the students and the teachers of Kala Bhavana. The cooperative efforts of the teachers and the students made the fair a successful one. On the 1st and 2nd of December the campus was adorned with stalls of artefacts, outdoor sculptures, installations and a lot more. Each department put up their own stall having their own specialities.
The stall of the Painting Department had drawn huge attention of the art lovers as well as of the common visitors.
The stall put up by the sculpture department evidently reflected their creative idea. The stall had works of various mediums like; terracotta, wood carving, and welded junks etc; done by both teachers and students.
The laborious efforts of the students and the teachers of the Graphics department helped them to gain an exceptional quality in their presentation.
The stall of the Art History department, accustomed to focus on theory, had art journals, books for children, comics and other familiar artefacts. The popular journals included Nandan (Volume: XXX); a compilation of articles written by the faculties and ex-students, which this time wholly concentrated on Rabindranath Tagore's paintings remembering the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary; and Searching Lines (Volume: 9), a collection of writings around art, by the students of the department.
The stalls of the design department had textile and ceramic works which consisted of hand painted and dyed fabrics and rag dolls.
This year Nandan Mela included outdoor sculptures and installations to decorate the space, an interactive performance of juggling on the centre stage, a tree-balcony for the people to have a top view of the entire fair and an open projection of the students' works. The innovative Foodstuffs, which were solely thought and prepared by the students, gave a chance to the visitors to have a break for a while. Most importantly, on the second day of the fair, a short comedy film named Khambe ke Neeche Kaun? made by the students, was screened. The film greatly amused the people with its wit and youthful fantasy.
Nandan Mela has now become one of the major events of Santiniketan. It is an interactive progression between the teachers and the students which helps the latter to grow mentally being in the academic environment. Moreover it has given proper scope to the students to come out of the studio oriented practice to a greater platform where they have to constantly communicate with the outer world and experience the swift changing thoughts and demands.