Biennale calligraphy workshop teaches attaining oneness of body and mind

Kochi, Jan 28: Calligraphy best expresses one’s state of mind and follows a process that enables a unique coordination of the mind and body, according to Bryan Mulvihill who has for over half-a-century’s experience in the visual art related to writing.

At a three-day workshop being organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) amid its 108-day contemporary art festival, Bryan highlighted how calligraphy aids one to scale a high point of inner feeling called ‘shunyata’. “It’s one where the mind is clear deep down yet aware of everything around,” he said amid the January 27-29 session that is on at KBF’s art room in a key biennale venue of Cabral Yard in Fort Kochi.

“I am trying to pass to the trainees (mostly children) this technique via calligraphy,” he pointed out, also referring to the four treasures of artists into this field: brush, ink, ink-stone and paper. “These are the essential tools required on the work table.”

Substantiating on ‘shunyata’, Bryan said an art-form emerging from that state of mind scales the heights like none other. “Simply, it is a form of churning out that form energy from a life force within us. That gets expressed as the art,” he added.

The master appreciating the “amazing way” the children were responding to his tips at the workshop concluding on Wednesday. “I am happy to know that they are getting what I am trying to convey,” he said.

Around 20 students from Chinmaya Vidyalaya at Kannamaly in Kochi were among the trainees at the workshop. Abhijeet A J, a class-5 student, said the session has helped him learn the significance of calmness. “The master has taught me how it can help us to come up with clear and productive results if we are quiet inside,” he added. “Our mind and body has to be one while doing the calligraphy.”

For Abhirami T A of class 8, calligraphy is a new art that she is learning. “It is amazing,” she notes. “At the start (of the session), I thought it would be a bit hard to understand. But the master is great in his answers to my questions. I am slowly getting a hang of it.”

Bryan, who has been practising calligraphy for five decades after studying under several oriental masters from China, Japan and Korea, besides some in the Middle East, derives inspiration also from the 1950s Beat Generation fathers such as Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.

At the art room here, school student Pranav C Shine notes that calligraphy, despite its complex looks at the outset, is “really easy once you understand the technique.”

According to Blaise Joseph who heads the KBF’s Art by Children programme that is organising the workshop series, calligraphy talks about mindfulness. “These children have got the opportunity to learn it from such a big name in the field,” he said.

Today being Monday, entry is free to the biennale. Several children turned up in the forenoon and afternoon to watch the exhibits at the main Aspinwall House venue in Fort Kochi.


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“The fourth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale runs from 12 December, 2018 – 29 March, 2019.“
Venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM.
Tickets are available for purchase for ₹100 at Aspinwall House.

Universal free entry every Monday.


By Air: Fort Kochi is 45 km from Kochi International Airport, Nedumbassery.
By Train: Fort Kochi is 13 km from Ernakulam Junction (South) Station and 16 km from Ernakulam Town (North) Station.
By Boat: Fort Kochi is 20 mins from the Ernakulam Boat Jetty and 10 mins from both Willingdon Island and Vypin Boat Jetty.
By Bus: Fort Kochi is 15 km from the main bus station in Ernakulam.

Many of the locations of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale are walking distances from each other (most are around 10 minutes or so).


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