Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Holi Colour

In the morning the fires, which had been situated in the middle of the roads around the pols, continued to smolder. 
We had special 'Holi' foods for breakfast and as we ate we could hear groups of boys running along the passageways beside the house, armed with super-soakers (Pichkaris), water pistols and drinks bottles with holes in the lids.
They were making raids into the nearby Pols to colour their neighbours, then quickly retreating home. Holi is a day of mischief. A Hindu festival, Holi celebrates the arrival of spring, new beginnings and the energy of new life. 
Holi has grown from many sources and legends, but for most the play of colour has its origins with Lord Krishna. Renowned for his playful and mischievous nature he is said to have coloured his favorite milkmaid Radha and the other Gopis.

Lucky not to get coloured myself, the boys informed me that the main event in the Pol would happen around 5pm when the municipal authorities turned the water for the Pol on again. Then, there would be an abundance of water both to soak others and to then clean with.

Across the city stalls sell bags of the coloured powder and bottles of coloured liquid. 
Most colour(Gulal) used today is chemically manufactured colour.
Traditionally the colours would have been produced in the home from special recipes (Herbal Gulal) using plants including the flowers of butea frondosa and butea monosperma.  

Some of the colour is very difficult to get off and the colours used today are sometimes made up of toxic materials and not good for you! I had read that a disposable boiler suit, moisturiser or Vaseline to cover the exposed skin, a swimming hat and swimming goggles were the order of the day! I imagined the response of the local boys to a european stepping into the Pol dressed in that attire!

Everywhere there was evidence of colour.... scattered powder on the ground......
Mischievous hand prints appeared on buildings and around the temple walls.......

Even the animals couldn't escape......
More information about Holi can be found here: Holi