A charity forum is South Shields unites the community with a new arts project….reports Asian Lite News
Women of South Shields and other parts of Tyne & Wear, along with family, friends and key stakeholders came together to celebrate Diwali through a unique community arts project ‘The Light Project’ and as part of it, the launch of an exhibition: My Diwali Home.
The project spearheaded by Sangini, a women’s charity based in South Shields, is developed in partnership with ArtsConnect and aims to raise awareness about this Hindu cultural festival Diwali (Festival of Lights). This is achieved through an exhibition and a community participation and workshops programme involving women and young people in South Shields and Sunderland.
The forum invited the Queen of Rangoli – Ranbir Kaur from Birmingham as the principal artist on a residency and to deliver a host of workshops across the Tyne & Wear.
Ranbir is a highly skilled and versatile maker working in different Indian folk art forms including rangoli, Indian embroidery, fabric and silk painting and Indian block. In 2006 she received the ‘Jewel of India’ award in recognition of her outstanding achievements and contribution in keeping Indian culture alive in the UK.
Rangoli is an important element of Diwali celebrations and every house is decorated with this colourful art. The art of Rangoli is a traditional art of decorating floor with colourful sand, flowers, coloured rice or lentils. Through the workshops young people learnt to use traditional motifs and designs, various materials and engage in narratives linked with Diwali.
“The project has exceeded all expectations and now reaches out to 400 young people and 30 women through participatory sessions from various parts in South Tyneside to Washington and Sunderland City. It has brought new partners on board, such as the Arts Centre Washington and Software Centre, Sunderland who have invited Sangini to help co-ordinate Diwali events at their venues. This shows how popular this project has been with everyone.” Margaret Dobson, co-chair, Sangini.
Ranbir Kaur said: “It has been a great joy working in the schools in South Tyneside. The warm welcome and the enthusiasm from the teachers as well as the children was superb and they created some amazing work. I look forward to coming back to do more work in the future.” Ranbir Kaur.
The project begins with a unique exhibition My Diwali Home, in that, a small scale gallery ‘Makaan’ is converted into an Indian home during Diwali festival. The aim is to provide an insight into some of the sights and senses of Diwali celebrations. A large Rangoli installation is presented along with personal objects, crafts and textiles produced by International artist Ranbir Kaur and personal objects will be on display. It is a great opportunity for people to visit this festive Indian home and learn about Indian culture in an experiential way.
‘Sangini is proud to present the unique project and it created an opportunity to share a part of our cultural tradition with the people of Tyne & Wear,’ said Sreelekha Reddy, Chair and Founder member of Sangini.
Padma Rao, project co-ordinator said: “It’s a terraced flat in a residential area where ordinary folks go about their daily business. From the outside it is inconspicuous, but on the inside it opens up into a different world with traditional Thorans, a mandir (temple) with traditional prayer objects, Rangoli, elaborately embroidered textile work, including a traditional calendar. We wanted to present something different for Diwali, something that gives a more holistic experience of Indian culture and I think we have achieved that with this exhibition.”
The exhibition was launched by the Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Porthouse.
“A wonderful and truly inspirational exhibition. Some of the art work is outstandingly created by an exceptional artist,” said Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr Richard Porthouse.
The project is supported through a generous grant from Port of Tyne Action Fund through the Community Foundation, the Arts Council of England and Sherburn House Trust.
Sanginj, Arts Connect or the artist are available for interviews, and photo opportunities are also available at the studio.
Sangini was set up in 2002, after identifying a gap in mainstream health provision for women from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and developed ways to tackle inequalities through creative intervention while enhancing social cohesion. It aims to improve the quality of women’s lives by increasing their physical, mental, and spiritual health through educational, creative and participatory activities that also celebrate cultural diversity.