On 6th of August, 2018, the students of BVA Foundation programme were asked to be ready with their pencils, colour pencils and an open mind to get out of the box through the two-day workshop on ‘Visual Thinking’. The workshop was conducted by Ms. Mandira Naidoo, a Collage Artist and Graphic Designer who creates extraordinary work by using x-ray sheets and glossy magazine paper. Mandira has exhibited her work at various galleries and spaces, such as the ITC Windsor Sheraton and the Kynkyny art gallery at Bangalore, the Nehru Centre at London, and as part of several private collections in the UK, the US and India. Mandira’s works were influenced by a range of interests including poetry, philosophy, Indian mythology, Dadaism and the works of Samuel Beckett. She describes her work as ‘Contemporary Contemplative’ — a medium in which she seeks ‘a very particular voice’.
The workshop started with an interactive session with the students during which, with the help of slideshows and quick sketches, Mandira explained the difference between icons, symbols and signs. She also took a brief lecture on semiotics, explaining the use of icons, symbols and signs in our daily life and in different organizations to help understand why and how visuals impact perceptions and interpretation. Every student was given the work booklet, every page of which carried an interesting task. Students enjoyed drawing their portrait, logos and drawing abstract expressions; they also learnt how to brainstorm before deriving the best possible idea. The students learnt to draw and differentiate icons of different genres, how music can be expressed in form of lines and how sounds can be written. Most loved exercises by students were drawing personalized emoticons as per their own mood swings and drawing animals out of abstract ink splashes.
Ms. Mandira’s involvement towards literature, poetry and music was seen in her efforts to make students visualize and draw not only what they could see as a scene or read as a story, but also what they can hear in the form of sound, music or lyrics of a song. The second day of the workshop involved students into serious thinking and application of all that they learnt on the first day. The students were asked to create a set of their own icons to convey the five Ks of Sikhism (i.e. KESH, KARA, KANGHA, KACHHA, KRIPAN), and to create symbols to represent the five evils or thieves from Sikhism (i.e. KAAM, KRODH, LOBH, MOH, AHANKAR). By the end of this exercise, the students were amazed by their own ability to convert a lesser known religious concept from abstract to visuals.
The highlight of the entire workshop was the visual creation of the nursery rhyme, “HUMPTY- DUMPTY” by using limited dingbats that were provided, and by redefining the icon or symbols to visually complete the rhyme. The outcome of this exercise was full of creative twists, learning and laughter. We are sure that the workshop has given the students the confidence in visual creation.