Photo Courtesy: Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy
I believe cartoon
is a magnificent
way of reaching out to the world for
And just like that, the British Council has taken the initiative to build a stronger foundation between London and other countries, such as Bangladesh, through the means of art. With this idea in mind, the British Council in Bangladesh decided to recruit young cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy for a job that was perfect for him. It involved a lot of traveling around and conducting extensive workshops for young enthusiasts who are interested in art. In this regard, Tanmoy says, “It feels good to produce and display our local art to an international audience.”
‘Rivers of the World' is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council's Connecting Classrooms and with support from HSBC Global Education Trust and City of London Corporation. Every year up to 36 schools from London are partnered with schools from six different countries. This year Bangladesh, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Ireland, and Korea joined the United Kingdom for the festival. Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy was the lead artist from Bangladesh and legendary Cartoonist and Writer, Ahsan Habib was the mentor for the project.
Through 'Rivers of the World', pupils are encouraged to study their own river in the first year of partnership and their partner city's river in their second year of the project. Six river themes provide a framework to compare the different rivers they learned about. The main task for the artists is to look for inspiration for drawings, paintings, photographs and other media. In addition to this, they must choose an appropriate design style that helps them channel and enables them to focus on creativity. They guide the students to learn; work and to create their visionary art work. Then the artist can manipulate the students' works digitally to provide the final master piece. This art work would integrate contributions from all the young budding artists present in one class.
Students working on a cartoon collage.
The different themes that students worked with.
The project started on December, 2011. The team from the British Council along with Tanmoy had to conduct four rounds of workshops with six schools in Sylhet. The main aim of the project is not just to connect two countries through cartoons, but to connect them through a diverse form of art. The artist had to choose six different mediums for six schools to provide six art works regarding river themes. So this year, for Bangladesh, they chose cartoon, rickshaw painting, pat chitra (scroll painting), nakshi kantha (traditional embroidery), cut and craft work and photo collage.
For Tanmoy, the journey was enjoyable and at the same time nerve wrecking. He says, “I was worried to hear that none of the schools, that I will be working with, had drawing in their curriculum so basically the students had no institutional training in art but when I started working with them, I realised that the story telling motive was already present in their drawings. Whatever they drew, their intention was to tell a story. This expressive behaviour inspired me more to adhere to the six forms and styles that I have chosen for this year's rivers of the world.”
ART WORKS DESCRIPTION
Sirajuddin Ahmed Academy
Theme: Working River.
Students from this academy sewed a nakshi kantha (a type of traditional embroidered quilt) which narrates the tale of a fisher man, rock collectors and other inhabitants who work and live near the riverside. In this traditional embroidery the stitches evolves into a uniquely stylised motif of people, animals, birds, boats, etc. The stitches introduce the variety of occupations based on river Surma.
Dakshin Surma Nasiba Khatun Girls' High School
Theme: River Culture.
The students of this school painted a traditional form of scroll painting called pat chitro. This is known as the oldest form of sequential drawings which can develop into a form of modern comics from this region. The theme of the art work is based on local mythical song lyrics of Sufi Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) crossing the river on his prayer rug.
M C Academy
(Model School and College)
Theme: Resourceful River.
In contrast with the traditional scroll painting, students of MC academy are designing a comic book in the contemporary style. The traditional scroll painting and the comics both complement each other in style. The students went through all the step by step process that a professional comic book artist has to go through. They finished a beautiful comic book that tells us about the bad impacts of constructing dams on Surma river. The comic book also draws emphasis on the resourcefulness of the river.
Tanmoy, the lead artist, mentoring a student.
Furthermore, the students illustrated a comic character of a small boy named Jalal whose fictional imagination made him believe that the river Surma was his friend. Through Jalal they created a visual presentation on how establishing a dam in the Surma river is a bad use of its own resources.
Israb Ali High School and College
Theme: River life.
The students here made a decorated rickshaw hood with the help of cut and craft work using plasticine cutouts and hand drawn figures. The hood is specially designed for this project to complement the topic of 'River life'. This one of a kind rickshaw hood contains birds, butterflies, insects, animals and flowers, showcasing the life of river Surma.
Mohammad Mokan High School & College
Theme: River Pollution.
The students here were working on a completely different theme to represent Surma It was on river pollution, but after three workshops the students realised that they were wasting many art materials. So they voluntarily made a beautiful fish using these materials. What better way to compliment a topic like river pollution! The students recycled and transformed the art workshop wastages into a magnificent piece of art.
Govt Pilot High School
Theme: River City.
Students in this project are tracing and drawing from historical photo references and making a map of the social and structural heritages. It represents the history of the city's developments over the last 100 years across the Surma river.
Students pouring out their creativity during the workshops.
The exhibition just launched in London and will travel the partner cities though out the year. In Bangladesh, a grand opening of this exhibition will take place in Dhaka on October 13, 2012. This event will be followed by exhibitions in Sylhet and Chittagong. This project will continue another year in Bangladesh. This year the art works were based upon our river Surma, next year the art works will be based upon river Thames in London.
Lastly, when asked how this project as a whole would help our nation, Tanmoy says, “It has a major impact on the nation because this project particularly concentrates on our younger citizens and if they are not made aware of their situation from now then it might be too late in the future. The six different themes, that the art works are based on, helps one understand the rivers from all perspectives. So, since Bangladesh is a country of rivers, I think it is very important for us to raise awareness to keep our rivers clean and beautiful.”