Neelanjani Auroville Visual Artist Centre
Drawing, painting, photography, sculpture
Calligraphy, etching, graphics, and installations
We would like to share this historical background of our existence in order to be transparent to all those who are interested in the Visual arts.
In July of 2012 the executives of the Visitors Center requested from the FAMC 8 Lakhs to complete their original plan of having an art gallery on the 1st floor of the new wing of the VC. They were refused. FAMC said they were already over extended and that they thought Bharat Nivas had much underutilized space.
On July 30 Bharat Nivas responded that they kept the right to decide what activities were included in their compound.
At this point Auroville artists were asked to take over the responsibility of building the gallery. Which to some of us it seemed right for if the artists were not willing to get behind such a venture it would probably turn out to be another boutique selling arts and crafts. We have been an unstable alliance of people who attend one meeting or two, have strong opinions and then are not seen again until they are asked to participate in a show.
In order to raise money for the building of the gallery we wrote a proposal with the help of the architect, Suhasini and are sending it out to possible donors. We had one serious offer. However, the terms and conditions of the donation were beyond our ability as we were not in a position to hire an engineer required to meet the demands of thedonor. The lesson from this is that we must keep close track of the proposals that we send out and that we must have some funds that we can use at our own discretion.
In 2013 we were given a space on the ground floor of the VC for three months to make into a gallery and exhibit Auroville Artists. 26 artists participated. Our intention was to keep the gallery open 6 days a week but we did not have enough support from the artists so sitting the gallery fell on just a few.
As we were located on the path of the visitors going to see the Matrimandir we had hundreds of people coming through. The majority of them had no interest in the painting but were interested and bought the ceramic sculpture. The paintings that sold were by artists who had never shown their paintings before.
If the visitors were interested they went away with a new understanding of art AND the Aurovilians who visited said, I never knew there were so many artists in Auroville and how wonderfully diverse they are.
Our joint mural project at Bharat Nivas was another learning experience but easier, for the vision was held by the artist in charge. Happily volunteers arrived as we needed them. We were helped with supplies by generous supporters. We had been told from the beginning that the wall could be painted over at any time—as it still can be. We are grateful that that did not stop our plans because many people have said that they enjoy The Cosmic Cow mural our present to the community.
We received from the VC late in 2014 permission to use the outside north wall of their center across from the cafe. About 15 painters and sculptures have given their work. The artists felt that 40% of sales was too much to give to Neelanjani as we had asked before, so 20% was agreed on. Eight of the artists have stepped up to help our manager hang and take down every morning and evening a contribution of about forty minutes. Our manager has been a very valuable find for she likes to talk to visitors about the work, networks, educates, is good on a ladder and sits the display Thurs., Fri., Sat., and Sun. the days we are open.
A brief lecture: Art is not this or that / what you like or what I like / art cannot be put in a box. Some people think they know what art is but they know what they have been conditioned by, educated by, experienced by and yes reacted from. This is the biggest challenge of a cooperative artist venture. Neelanjani is slowly learning how to set standards but they will always be controversial. Especially because this venture is partly dedicated to supporting and nurturing emerging artists. Professional standards must be kept as well as we possibly can.
On that note we at Neelanjani are very grateful for the support of the Visitors Center, all those artists who have participated in our activities, Kala Kendra, Suhasini, and those art lovers who have pitched in with their support.
WE WILL CALL A MEETING IN A FEW WEEKS TIME TO DETERMINE IF WE WILL CONTINUE TO GO FORWARD WITH THIS DREAM OR FACE THE REALITY THAT IT MAY HAVE RUN ITS COURSE. IF YOU THINK THE VISION STATEMENT BELOW IS A GOOD IDEA WE HOPE YOU WILL COME.
Neelanjani Auroville Visual Artist Centre is committed to working as a cooperative with other artists to finance and build a gallery on the first floor of the Auroville Visitors Center. The space will be a center of support, display, marketing and information on Auroville visual artists. From there will come shows inside and outside Auroville, instillations, murals, and other artistic expressions. Neelanjani will bring those working in visual expression together for stimulation information and support.