Life n Living – Part 1

Many of us carry out our routine duties day after day,with little time to reflect or introspect.There are some people who inspire by their way of living ,their way of work.Sharing some glimpses of such people,as interviews.The first in this series is : the people behind Bimba Art Hut.
The Journey of Bimba- The Art Ashram                                 – A fascinating living of earthy tradition in contemporary times

Bimba Art Hut is a quaint place tucked away in the bustling Basavanagudi area. This creative space welcomes beauty and grace by being earth-sensitive – a term that has become a mantra for the Artiste. For those of us who think we are doing a lot and for those of us who feel inadequate – a visit to this Ashram is a must. The Artiste and the founders of the Ashram – Deepika and Deepak share the travails of their fascinating journey in an exclusive conversation.

1) How did you begin working on this space?

As you practice classicism you discover the truth of this grows in living it in daily lifestyle. When you learn for the joy of learning and creating beauty, the stage dissolves into life, bringing alive the cosmos.
The curiosity to engage with the classic arts, weaving, sculpting, tailoring painting and dramatics by watching and learning actively through practice was the beginning of handmade art as a way of life for me.
Bimba -The Art Hut happened in 2001 in an antique space in the heart of Chennai. Here the inner urge to work every day with handmade practice to celebrate Earth as a single, only medium; to embellish and simplify life; celebrate a modern yet indigenous lifestyle came forth.
Now only in Bangalore, this evolved into Bimba The Art Ashram in 2011 which is active exploration ,contemplation, manifestation and sharing of many handmade art forms that one was curious to experiment with.

 It is like a maidan to celebrate art. Life space is a canvas to paint earthy art into every day and every moment, a lung of art to breathe in the heart of our city.
Hence the transformation of a somewhat dilapidated “old” building into an Ashram of Art and hand building of earthy inflow into “ things “ and “spaces” happened. And surroundings spaces that spell a possibility – the inviting of earth sensitivity and aesthetics into lifestyle practices like sitting, storing, displaying, serving, worshipping, cooking conserving etc. . This means we work with hand, making earth sensitive materials and processes in a flowing dynamic way to discover beauty while creating attire, furniture furnishing here. We share the embedded values in making and “utilizing” on the surrounding spaces so that they can be carried home.
The Aangana, a handmade courtyard theatre space that emerged a few years ago is devoted to practice and sharing of masterly art and spirituality.

2) What is your inspiration that sustains this interest to build, to share?

We must walk lightly yet joyously on earth in our lifetime.
The teaching of Rishis that we must be proud of our country and its rich offering of colours, forms, icons and artistic inheritance from wise ancestors (our real wealth) has remained as something to be acted upon through a lifetime.

A teaching from my Dance Guru, Pandit Leela Samson stayed with me “Once you enter the realm of classical art, you are an ambassador of the art. Whatever you do, your every act should be within the framework of the art form.”
The word “abhyasa” emphasizes the rigor; the discipline that is required. Daily practices that become values – where art reflects life and vice versa. This is a never ending process. Perspiration is an important part of inspiration.
Art is a journey and does not imply merely the ability to do things. It is a quest, a stretch towards divinity. It is contemplative till it bursts forth as spontaneity.
In our practice together with people who walk into our lives every day we explore beauty which includes truth and sensitivity – sensitivity to people, energy processes, sensitivity that has a reverence for Earth and celebrates life.

This in turn evokes peace. People are amazed at the tranquility they experience, in the heart of the city. This spurs us on along with the continuously expanding understanding that nurturing life is more about inviting more and more nature, values into day to day living than merely consuming or even “sustaining” livelihood.Art explores beauty to the fullest and then imbibes and evokes Rasa This Rasa has to be shared. Anything that is good has to be shared. The Rasaloka solo theatre is an experience that refreshes and rejuvenates the soul.

3) Can you please elaborate on this still-art theater form called “Rasaloka”?

The “living” of one moment and the discovery of the next moment is inspiration for art. And when that moment is an act of the divine it becomes very powerful. It is open to all during the ten days of Navarathri and then becomes part of our weekly Saturday Art at 6:30 pm offering that is devoted to sharing masterly performances The inspiration behind the visual form of Rasaloka was my grandmother when she created a miniature scene during Navarathri that was her own.It followed that artistic responsibility meant practicing, deepening this experience, widening its invitation and exploring divinity through theatre in this art form. Rasaloka even now captures one moment –one leela that celebrates the timelessness of that moment through story telling. The creation of this realistic miniature moment that depicts the panaroma and the intricate, beautiful details of a cosmic happening give limitless thrill as it remains a solo handmade practice.It is a thrilling challenge each year to depict a moment of the divine and a joy to share the unending depth of its wisdom and love through an intimate theatre recital that is inspired by Sanskritised theatre.

We have recently started the Bhakti Theater – a spiritual drama that evokes love and wisdom in an open space. It is a solo oral theatre/ live storytelling that we will offer every third Saturday in the open air atmosphere of the Aangana.The open air space and the stylization of expression enhances the experience of artist and spectators even while it seems to dissolve artist- viewer barriers

4) What are the challenges you face or have faced as you seamlessly weave nature, spirituality and art?

Life gets refined when we engage with art. However, truthfulness needs strength. One challenge is we need sensitive people to nurture and support earth sensitive lifestyle practices we have hit upon especially in a context of urban space. Today when we act as mere consumerist bargainers we are crunching classic creativity while the city actually has all the resources to grow the richness of our country’s natural identity. The biggest challenge remains to tap such potential and grow the beauty and sensitivity in inner spaces and outer spaces. We must find ways to fund in an innovative yet lasting truthful way the various layers of this tentatively poised space. Repeated patronage of art practice and performance spaces is as important as brand loyalty that sustains big projects and standardized creations. Voluntary technology that grows information-sharing related to such spaces and their unique meaningful activity in a sustained way is imperative As audience we must repeat our exposure to classical art forms and seek purity. Bimba gives an opportunity to build audiences for many spectacular art forms. And then equally important is building dignity in the care of artists, artisans their families who swim against the tide of mass commercialization. 5) What has been your moment of supreme happiness?Many. Now. And all you see today. The arrival of a spiritual Master if you want to pinpoint a singular moment. This happening ensures a joyous meaningful perspective to life and life force. 
6) What are your reflections about this journey?We welcome people every day. This space in the heart of the city is multilayered. There is a superimposing of layers – exploring art, nurturing beauty and a sense of inclusiveness. Come and explore. 

Partake the grandeur and help us perpetuate an artist’s work and journey while you become an active supporter of many spectacular art forms.The beauty of hand-made, earth sensitive art will prevail.
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