Get-hooked June 7, 2021
London-based artist reaches out to support disabled artists in India
The Covid pandemic has isolated many disabled artists in India from their audiences. With no physical art exhibitions being held, many artists with disability are unable to find buyers for their work. Fortunately, there are many individuals and platforms that are coming forward to support disabled artists. One of them is prominent London based artist Revati Sharma Singh, who has supported over 50 artists with disability from across India.
Anu Jain, a disabled artist based in Bengaluru, dabbles in a variety of media ranging from watercolour to acrylic, fabric and glass. Anu has a locomotor disability from birth – her arms extend up to elbows and legs above her knees. The limited mobility has not stopped her from giving a free rein to her artistic imagination. She sells her artwork online and conducts online art classes. The rich details in her work and use of colour gives her artwork a unique, vibrant style, which caught the eye of London-based artist Revati Sharma Singh.
Singh spotted Anu’s work at Atypical Advantage, a platform which offers a space for disabled artists in India to showcase their work and interact with buyers. Upon exploring the platform further she found quality works by many other prominent artists with disability who were looking for ways to connect with more buyers. With no physical exhibitions being held, the disabled artists have lost out on opportunities to display their work or sell them.
Covid impacts artists with disability
Singh, who is a major champion of disability in the arts and has conducted many art workshops with disabled children and youth, decided to do something to support these artists with disability.
I thought of collecting the artworks of these artists with disability and getting corporates to commit to buying their artwork on a rolling basis. There’s a huge amount of talent in India and this way they get exposure. We have bought 60 artworks from over 50 disabled artists from across India. Many of them will travel across India. Some will adorn the walls of hospitals with a dedicated space devoted to the artwork with a placard about each artist and their story. – Revati Sharma Singh, Artist
Support for over 50 artists with disability
Anu’s work – a watercolour of two birds sitting on a flower branch – is all set to adorn a wall at a prominent Mumbai hospital. “This has given me a better platform to connect with wider audiences”, says Anu. “My painting will be seen by many people at the hospital and will motivate patients. I never thought my artwork could motivate someone”.
Singh, whose own artistic journey began as a portrait artist 20 years ago, works with assemblages of ceramic, cast metal, handmade silver, tapestry, embroidery, and paint. Her creative pursuits have extended to working closely with disabled children and youth. She has worked with the Jai Vakeel Foundation in Mumbai which supports children and adults with intellectual and developments disabilities, conducting art workshops. “I feel that artists with artists with differing abilities bring a lot more of themselves to their work because their sensitivity is at a different level”, says Singh.
So far, Singh has been able to raise nearly three lakh rupees by selling the paintings and she hopes to take this a step further. She wants to guide the disabled artists on the Atypical Advantage platform by getting curators on board who can guide them in terms of style. She hopes to have a curated exhibition in the future. “This way each artist with disability will exhibit something on that basis”, she adds.
Artworks filled with hope
From landscapes to the abstract to gods and goddesses, the chosen artworks are vibrant and full of hope, much needed in these uncertain times. Shloka Shankar, among the artists with disability to be supported, is thrilled with the opportunity to showcase her work on a wider platform. Shloka, who has muscular dystrophy, does mainly digital art. Like the other disabled artists, the lockdown has hampered her creative output in some ways. “Most of my work is digital and I need to get it printed in shops which are all closed due to the lockdown. Through Atypical Advantage I have been able to get attention from a larger audience and it’s wonderful to be recognised for their work, with no strings of sympathy attached”.
For Lipy Lekha Rathore, a disabled artist from Keonjhar, Odisha, this support and recognition for artists with disability has been a huge boost. “I am a teacher by profession and art has always been a hobby, says Lipy, who has vision in one eye.
”When classes went online after lockdown, I had more time to devote to my art and I have been painting much more. I had never really looked at selling my paintings before, but this opportunity has opened my eyes to new avenues. I am thrilled by this sale and the fact that my artwork will be seen by more people has inspired me to paint much more”.
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