From jute craft to impasto painting, learn it all at Art Rickshaw in South Kolkata
In the last couple of years, Kolkata’s artscape has found plenty of breathing space in Art Rickshaw. The concept art gallery, which started with the sole purpose of giving a platform to aspiring artists, young, middle-aged or old, is consistently trying to bring the idea of creation closer to the city’s people. You can drop in on a random Wednesday for some impromptu pottery sessions and spend some time with yourself.
“It started out with the simple idea of providing a creative space to the people of this city, something they can call their own. We started out as a gallery and had our first class in 2016. People can drop in to practise what they like, or to find what they are good at. We have a number of skilled mentors coming in every day for the sessions,” says Devanshi Rungta, who started Art Rickshaw with her mother Shailja Rungta. Devanshi tells us that her mum came up with the name Art Rickshaw as the rickshaw is a huge part of Kolkata’s cultural identity, and represents the idea of moving forward.
Art Rickshaw, of course, hosts a phenomenal street art festival; this year’s Kolkata Arts Lane Festival, which was the second edition of the event, was held in Hindustan Park and saw more than 55 trailblazing artists and local craftsman from across the country, who came together to showcase their work. “We literally wanted to bring art to the streets with the festival, and wanted to mobilise public art, to connect with people, to know how they view their city,” says the millennial entrepreneur, who just completed her graduation in Mass Communications from St Xavier's College.
The Art Rickshaw studio is a relaxed three-room space, elaborately muraled on the outside, and very hard-to-miss amid the urban bustle of South Kolkata. From pottery and clay modelling to terracotta, jute crafts and impasto painting workshops, Art Rickshaw is a smorgasbord of creative expression and hosts an impressive array of artistic programmes. “There are fine arts classes which consist of acrylic, charcoal, soft pastels, watercolour sessions. You could also just show up and paint a canvas, and figure out what you like,” adds Devanshi, who also reveals Art Rickshaw is making some leaps to bring the urban crowd closer to the local arts and crafts of the state.
“The pottery classes are taken by local artisans, and in the upcoming months, we are focusing a lot on workshops by craftsmen and women from across the state. From stamp makers and bookbinders of Chitpur, to clay artisans, it’s a way of including homegrown forms of art and making them accessible to people,” we are told. The workshops and classes are curated in a way which could work around your schedule; you could go for an hour-long session, a two-month or even a two-year session, depending on what you want. Devanshi reveals Art Rickshaw sees an astonishingly diverse group of people showing up for their classes and workshops, from college students to lawyers, doctors, accountants, software engineers and homemakers.
A one-day class can cost you between Rs 400 to Rs 500