Sipna Art Residency, was a very memorable time. Very precious days and nights amongst the oldest tribes living on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Where two quiet rivers meet. Tapi and Sipna right in the centre of India.There arrived many other artists from India and Europe carrying various skills.
The residency happened in the last 10 days of December. The days were sunny and nights damn cold. We were many together. Everyone skilled in their practises. There were painters, sculptors, Architects, local artists, farmers, Photographers, Dancers, Performers and also artists who worked with bamboo and one who worked on making murals in water.
We were living somewhere deep in the jungle of teak. Probably in some village on the other side of Melghat Tiger Reserve. The river Sipna dancing like a snake crawled through picturesque landscape cutting the old plateau. big, small naturally sculpted rocks.
There lived an old sage somewhere along the river by the jungle. I remember him because in his hut stayed a one peacocks, three peahens, a cows, a horse, a deer nearby, a shy snake as he said and a woman. All lived with the old sage. She was diseased. When i and Radha went to his hut we met the woman sitting alone on a cot. Radha spoke to her and she showed her a lump that had grown out from the insides of her inner thigh. Babaji is treating me, she said.
One day we went on a day’s long walk to see Sipna river meeting with the river Tapi. It was a long walk passing through beautiful hidden villages, like a pilgrimage. We walked all afternoon. Somehow it became an emotional journey for a few of us, because it was the first time I saw poverty in its most raw form. We passed through many small villages consisting of only huts. People had no clothes, nothing to wear on their feet, their homes looked like structures of dry grass, Men and women seemed to be working so hard and eating so less that my gaze kept going towards the ribs of many men whom I kept meeting working in the fields. I made an image of one amongst them for memory.
I made quiet a few so friends with whom i worked later. The river had been a quiet companion for all of us. We have seen local fishermen catching different type of fishes at different times in a day.
I am waiting for that day when i can travel back not just in time but in work to Melghat and other villages of Rural India.