Over the hills and far away

Amol Gokhale
Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The experience of attending and participating in Platform For Artists collaboration at Zostel Panchgani was enriching for many reasons

As one heads for Panchgani, climbing through Pasarani Ghat, the newly established Zostel Panchgani catches your eye with its unique logo.

This beautiful place finds itself overlooking the breathtaking Krishna Valley. One cannot truly say it is newly constructed as there is bare minimum construction — this is the only Zostel in the country, made from shipping containers. Yes, you heard it right, and that is what makes this place unique and truly remarkable.

As part of their collaboration, Platform for Artists (PFA) lately hosted their 10th Art Gateway at this serene location. Themed along Zostel’s eco-travel campaign #iTravelGreen, the visiting 20 artists expressed their art forms to create awareness about eco-friendly travelling, in a residency programme.

The three-day event saw artists from various parts of the country but primarily from Pune and Mumbai, who practise different art forms, gather and create something together at this scenic spot.

Architect Joydeep Mondal conducted a focus group discussion on the lines of putting soul into art and presenting it in today’s competitive market. 

“Their (artists’) willingness and comfort with the idea of collaborating with other artists they have just met is very inspiring. They are very open to exploring and learning from each other and are constantly looking for feedback and guidance to progress. PFA is doing a fabulous job by giving them this platform to co-create, where personal stories come out through art forms as a result of collaboration,” he expressed.

Amrietaa Arun, a 23-year-old artist, who indulges in exploring different art forms and mediums like painting, writing and storytelling, and works as a graphic designer, shared her experience of the event. 

“Platform For Artists has always had my interest as a community bringing up artists. By participating in the residency, my attempt was to be able to gauge, understand, collaborate and connect with artists of different backgrounds from all over the country,” Amrietaa, a trained dancer, said.

“The plus side of conducting this (getaway) in remote location brings the promise of being able to detach oneself from the daily stress, allow an artistic space unlike any other and blending together with other creative people to create a unique experience,” she further added about her first Getaway with PFA.

Narendra Patil, 24, who hails from Jalgaon but is based in Pune since his schooling days, had a completely different motivation to attend the event. He had heard about it from his friend, Shiri, who too took part in it. “I heard from Shiri how good an experience it was when she attended PFA’s last event. I always had a little inferiority complex about my background and wanted to meet people who are doing something creative in art,” Patil, who has a tattoo studio in Viman Nagar in the city, added.

“Meeting these people gave me a lot of confidence. I was also inspired to try new things as I ended up shopping whole lot of material for drawing and painting,” he further added about his experience.

Kshitija Sarda, CEO and co-founder of Platform For Artists along with Pawan Rochwani spoke where PFA stands after 18 months, the idea behind it and how the duo has reversed their roles.

“Pawan, an all-rounder artist, was my college senior and he came up with the idea of creating a platform for artists when he realised there was none on the larger scale. He thought about it after coming back from an India tour, which he did after quitting his corporate job, realising what is more important in life for him,” Sarda said.

What started initially as a weekend activity where Pawan, Kshitija and their friends would collaborate, soon blossomed and spread in eight Indian cities and the roles of the duo have completely changed. In the earlier stages, Pawan would go out to conduct events, while Kshitija looked after the back-end, but now it is completely the opposite.

“As a person, I am an introvert and lacked confidence but Pawan always gave me responsibility and supported me throughout. It was a learning experience for me. After 18 months, now I am confident enough to talk in front of 40 people,” Sarda, a writer herself, expressed.

In one of the activities, in which I took part actively, was a collaboration in a pair. I teamed up with Simran Shewani. Keeping in mind Zostel’s hashtag, we spent time on a cliff leading down to the Krishna Valley, exchanging what we felt about nature and being in the moment. We opted to create something which we felt at that point. I ended up writing a letter to my younger self, while Simran created an illustration about the same, expressing what she feels when one talks about being connected to nature.

As the evening progressed with rain creating music outside, the artists presented their art which included illustrations, paintings, music, dance, doodle and poems. A bunch of young people, most of whom were meeting for the first time, created something that will stay with them for a long time.

Visit: Zostel

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