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.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

NID & The Centre for Environment Education.

One of the HAT LAB participants, Prarthana Borah, is a programme coordinator at CEE; The Centre for Environment Education. We went to visit the beautiful CEE campus and to see and learn about the educational work she and CEE are involved with across the whole of India.
'The Centre for Environment Education, CEE was created in recognition of the importance of environmental education in India's overall environment and development strategy. It is a national institution engaged in developing programmes and material that improve public awareness and understanding of the environment with a view to promoting the conservation and sustainable use of nature and natural resources, leading to a better environment and a better quality of life. CEE was established in 1984 as a Centre of Excellence in Environmental Education, supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India. CEE is part of The Nehru Foundation for Development, (its parent organisation) which has been promoting educational work in the areas of science, nature study, health, development, and the environment since 1966."

The Centre is involved in the development of environmental educational programmes for both formal (schools to higher education) and informal (community education) settings. It provides training for educators and teachers as well as long term education for graduates and post graduates in environmental education. It is responsible for producing learning materials to promote understanding of environmental awareness as well as publishing papers and books diseminating information on environmental and sustainability issues. CEE lobbies at regional, national and international levels and provides support for a diverse range of sustainable and environmental projects including design and materials projects which support the use of sustainable, reused and/or recycled materials. In Ahmedabad CEE are exploring projects aimed at greening the old city pols; encouraging the growing of produce and plants on roof terraces and balconies as well as trying to planting to encourage wildlife back into the city.

The Campus includes a Library and documentation centre - where books, periodicals, maps, charts, posters, kits, as well as audio-visual and other non-print material on Environment Education (EE) and related subjects are available to reference, loan or buy. An Information Service Centre, established to collect and disseminate information on Environmental Education, Education for Sustainable Development and related areas forming an archive and information hub to support the needs of environmental educators, decision makers, researchers and the general public. 

CEE has a tour bus which takes exhibitions out to villages and towns to promote environmental awareness.

There is a graphic design studios, producing art work for leaflets, publications, temporary and permanent exhibition.
And an exhibition design studio and workshop, producing displays for exhibitions promoting the objectives of CEE.
The skill of the model makers was clear to see... 

The centre had an entrance building, a retail area selling books, publications and some of the design artefacts that are produced as part of CEE projects. Outside this space was a interesting open area  - a steel structure, clad with strips of bamboo. It produced layers of light bamboo and shadows.

Bamboo is increasingly becoming a material of choice in design practices and across the whole range of scales (product to Architecture) due to its environmental and sustainable qualities. It is fast growing, environmentally sound, available on a whole range of scales from large diameter, tall, structurally strong  'tubes' to fine woven panels for buildings, as well as all manner of domestic items from baskets and cooking utensils to mats, its even being spun and woven into fibres to make blankets and towels. Both NID and CEE are involved in design, economic and social projects exploring further ideas and possibilities for this versatile material.

Along with Barney and Steve Dixon I went on to visit Neelima Hasija Associate Senior Designer- Industrial Design & Coordinator for the Ceramic and Glass Discipline at the National Institute of Design.

NID is a leading design college in India, It was established in 1961 by the Governement of India under the Ministry for Industry as an autonomous leading national institution for design education, training, service and research. The school follows the teaching principles of the Bauhaus and Ulm Schools of Design in Germany and the college has an international reputation as a leading light in the field of design and as a catalyst for change in Indian design, industry and the countries economic development.

"During the early years of post independence India, manifold changes were taking place in economic and social scenario and in production processes with the introduction of new technologies even in the remotest corners of the Indian sub-continent. There were at that time, great thinkers who realized that the process of development demanded a closer look at the future policies and resources that would later on determine the pattern and pace of growth envisioned for India of the future. The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1953 outlined these concerns and indicated broad guidelines. It was as result of these activities that the Government of India invited the renowned design team of Charles and Ray Eames to recommend a programme of design to serve as an aid to the newly established small industries in India. On the basis of their ground breaking and insightful document, 'The India Report', the Government of India set up the National Institute of Design in 1961 as an autonomous national institution for research, service and training in Industrial Design and Visual Communication."

Students from around the world come to study here and both the students projects and staff research includes field work, studying and documenting the indigenous crafts of India. The college has a shop which sells work produced by current and recent graduates as well as publications and work by staff. I picked up a great book  'Bamboo and Cane Crafts of North East India'  By MP Ranjan documenting the use of cane and bamboo across different states and on different scales from fish baskets to architectural work.
Outside the shop I was introduced to Manish Vaidya the buyer and retail manager of the Craft Centre at the House of MG. He kindly offered to meet and show me some of the workshops in the Old City.

On the way back to Arts Reverie we passed a cycle rickshaw with a giant plastic water storage tank.