JICA volunteers with JICA’s Executive Senior Vice President, Kazuhiko Koshikawa at the exhibition

Children’s imagination captured in artwork

Art exhibition to encourage students to take up arts

The woods, the fluffy clouds almost kissing the hills and the serenity make Haa Chundu a perfect subject for artists.

The tranquility often punctuated by the cheering of students meeting at a regional sports completion below hardly bothers the calmness of the place. Haa Chundu, at least this time of the year, is the place for an artist who wants to escape the hurly burly of a city life.

Below the woods- still in the woods- in a small hall of Chundu Armed Forces Public School, students of Haa and teachers have put up an art exhibition. It is the expression of the student’s imagination. Their imagination includes the woods, trees, animals, wild and domestic and traditional themes. Artists include students from grade Pre Primary to IX.

From paper cuttings, handprints, and sketching to origami and recreating famous paintings, the simple exhibition with a theme “I Love Arts” is a product of children’s love for art, says a Japanese volunteer, Rie Yamamoto and teachers who are behind the exhibition.

Using boxes, chocolate wrappers and pet bottle caps, students recreated their imagination of their “dream room.” Many have a sofa set, separate dining rooms with tables and huge beds.

The exhibition was organised to display students’ creation and imagination through art, says Yamamoto who had been in the country for almost two years. “Art enhances student’s innovations and self-confidence,” says the volunteer. Yamamoto noticed a common thing among the student- artists. “They usually draw or paint their surroundings, family and friends,” she says. In the language of art, she says it is the reflection of the “close-knit” Bhutanese society.

Two JICA volunteers Eri Chiba who teaches in a Thimphu school, and Sachiya Hamada from Gyaploishing helped the school with the artworks including their own work for the exhibition. Art in any form, they say improves the children’s self esteem and their imagination, an important skill in their development.

JICA’s Executive Senior Vice President, Kazuhiko Koshikawa, who is in the country on a three-day visit, opened the exhibition.

JICA’s Chief Representative, Koji Yamada said that most parents and adults expect their children to work hard on academic subjects believing that it is the only way to get a good job, a good government job, and live a better life. “But children’s early exposure to art and design may motivate them in so many different ways and it may give them a variety of life options to take,” he said.

Sharing his personal story, the Chief Representative said that whenever he saw his eldest son making plastic model robots as a pastime, or his daughter drawing cartoons instead of studying math and science, he felt that they were doing something inappropriate as a high school student.

“One day, my younger brother told me that the industrial sector desperately needs young people who are able to undertake such precision manual works enthusiastically. My son obtained the patent in the optical technology he had developed in his 20s and is running a company of his own.”

Koji Yamada encouraged students to take up arts reasoning that children’s early exposure to art and design motivate them in different ways. “Students, if you look around beyond the national border, you will see there are so many different types of jobs in the world, and they are getting more and more diverse, year by year, day by day,” he said.

Ugyen Dorji who drew the National Emblem with pencil was not present during the speech. The Class VII student later said that he sees a good future if he can improve on his drawing skills. “If I can’t find a government job, I can always rely on my skills,” he says. Ugyen Dorji learnt his skill at home helping his little brother with his drawings. He is interested in traditional painting. “I feel encouraged and proud when I can display my work here,” he said.

Next to the National Emblem, is an art drawn using ballpoint pen and pencil. Tshering Dendup, 12, has captured his imagination of what His Majesty The King had done to the country. In a paper smaller than an A4, Tshering has captured decades of the country’s developments. “This is our King’s achievement- of what he did to his people,” says the Class VII student.

If their work on display is a reflection of what they see and feel everyday, Kinley Dorji values friendship. The 12-year’s drawing of the four friends, with a fat elephant, is an expression of his friendship with his friends. “When I was asked to contribute, I thought of the four friends,” says the Class VII student.

Contributed by  Ugyen Penjor

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