Venki’s workshop teaches kids how picture books can be a tool for social cause

Kochi, Jan 23: Noted illustrator Venki believes that ‘picture books’ serve as a strong medium to promote good causes beyond being just fun. It’s this message he is conveying at a workshop running alongside the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

In the midst of training children at the three-day event that began on Tuesday, the 51-year-old Malayali highlights the social benefits of picture books, which serve stories with a moral. “Sadly, we don’t notice that aspect much though have all been reading picture books for years,” he notes, sitting with trainees at the January 22-24 workshop on illustration at Fort Kochi’s Cabral Yard, a key venue of the ongoing 108-day biennale.

At the Art Room, which is a Kochi Biennale Foundation project aimed at nurturing young talents and strengthening their social relations, Venki sought to initially leave the children work the way they liked. “I did not want to influence them; so I did not intervene on the first day,” says the alumnus of College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram. “Rather, I chose to tell them a story. Based on it, they came up with a set of pictures. Today, I gave them a proper feedback.”

On Wednesday, 23 children from two schools in nearby towns attended the workshop, titled ‘Story-writing, Storytelling, Illustration’.

Safeer Ahmad, a class-9 student from SDPY, Palluruty, came out with a well-structured picture book, having attended the workshop’s first day as well. “The class gave me a lot of ideas to think in different directions.”

Aein Diona Joseph from Our Lady’s, Thoppumpady said the workshop kindled in her a love for picture books. “The workshop let me to know that the process of making picture books could be so interesting.”

Venki, who is from Palakkad and lives in Kochi, has been involved in children’s books since 1991. Having illustrated 400 books for children, he was the editorial illustrator with an English daily for a decade and has won recognitions, including two state awards for children’s book illustration and cover designs.

The aim of this particular workshop is to give children a platform to come up with their own stories to develop into a picture book, according to Blaise Joseph, who heads the KBF’s Art by Children programme.

“Children do learn a lot of stories like Panchatantra tales and Aesop’s fables. But they hardly get any opportunity to learn their regional stories,” he adds.

As they were seldom taught to think in different ways, imagination gets limited. “That’s why whenever we ask them to draw something; most of them come up flat and repetitive pictures,” Blaise says.


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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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