Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meetings with artists and animators

Lepden Jamir is a senior artist in Nagaland.  He is based in Kohima, and I went to meet him to discuss a workshop for young artists in Nagaland to create illustrations for a book of folktales from Nagaland that will eventually be published by the Indian National Trust for Cultural Heritage, in Delhi. 

Lepden tells me that while anyone can study fine art there are some born artists who will give their life in dedication to their work, and I instinctively know that he is such an artist.  Lepden has many skills; he is an accomplished sculptor whose large impressive wooden carvings (masks and pillars) are inspired by traditional Naga sculpture with themes that have contemporary relevance to society here.  He also paints, illustrates, writes and plays music and he received the Governor’s Award in 2006.   He is enthusiastic about our project as he wants to establish an “artists khel” to bring local artists together, and he feels that the initiative could start with the illustration workshop.  He tells me of his deep concern for the youth in Nagaland.  “Artists should not go for survival first.  They should learn something and become something”,  he says, adding that he feels that young people in the state are in a dilemma about their future due to lack of communication between the generations.  He is in touch with young artists and supports several of them but impresses that it is equally important to reach out to their parents too, as their support is essential for art to develop in Nagaland.    Junior artists in Nagaland require guidance and direction from their seniors and the focus needs to be on the quality rather than quantity of artists. Good artists must be recognized and senior artists should be sponsored to organize workshops and they also need opportunities to gain new skills to bring back and share with the rest.    “I tell the young people who have studied outside to come back as we have so many things to do in Nagaland.  We have so many histories and stories, who will record that?”

Lepden has been a Government employee since 1997, holding the job of senior artist in the Department of Agriculture.  He points out the lack of understanding of the language of cinematography in the agricultural field, and that farmers neither read nor understand the terminology used so it is his role to convey information through mass media, including television, posters, leaflets and other visual aids.    When work is delayed in his office Lepden works at home, telling me that while he is immersed in his creativity, time and routine loose all relevance.  “People do before they think, we should think first before we do;   these hands are God’s gift and they are tools.  Good artists are hard to find, and you won’t find them in important places.  A happy man cannot be a good artist, because the artist will be tired and suffering.  Everyone wants to hear good music, but an artist cannot compose popular tunes because they are always many years ahead of their time.  Also, plenty of research is required otherwise the work is superficial.  This is the difference between a craftsperson and a sculptor; the sculptor should study history of art and will try to communicate a message through his work, seen in the expression.    

The illustration workshop is planned for mid November this year and it is hoped that it will help to revitalize interest for art in Nagaland.  

1 comment:

  1. Lepden jamir is an extra ordinarily 1 talent human soul. i love his Works and Dedications. Im proud to say hat he is my Uncle. Keep it up to Infinite high Tanupo. And best wishes for Workshp and the team. God bless.