The Terracota Jewellery making-workshop at Dakshinachitra caught my attention in METROPLUS, a supplement of THE HINDU. The only clincher was the number of days that the workshop consumed. The workshop included a Friday and a Saturday, and yet another Friday. Now, I was caught between choosing two weekdays for which I may not get permission and second, I was not sure if I would be able to practice my newly acquired skills. Terracotta requires clay to be kneaded well, shaped and baked in a kiln at high temperatures. So my choices were very clear; either I build my own kiln which is next to impossible or otherwise I can use someone else's kiln which was also an unlikely option. Moreover I was not sure if the money that went into the workshop was worthwhile.
After a brief discussion with AFJ about my predicament, I spoke to the resource person who assured me that the workshop will cover interesting subjects that we may not have otherwise been exposed to. Finally my excitement got the better of me and I enrolled myself for the 3-day workshop. About 10-15 people from all age groups and vocations turned up. There were two college students, a journalist, a freelance writer, a school teacher and a couple of artists. We were a great team and bonded almost immediately.
But our excitement was dampened by the ill-organized workshop and the oppressive Chennai heat. None of the techniques were taught and neither was individual attention given to any of the participants. Finally, we ended up working on our own. Promises had not been kept and my heart was bleeding. It was a huge disappointment because I was really looking forward to learning a new art and improvising on my new skill. But what I had learnt was no different from what I had already known.
Year before last, I had participated in the Mask-making workshop, put-together by Prithvi Theatre. My foundation had been established then and I wanted to build on that base. That urged me to plunge into this workshop. The worst part: No one said anything and not a finger was lifted. Irrespective of the others, I made it a point to question him in public for which I received an unapolgetic apology. That left me fuming and I decided that I was not coming back for the final day.
Thankfully, the final day of the workshop had been postponed from Friday to Saturday. So I dint have to worry about taking off from work. I could not make it for the workshop in anycase, because AFJ and I had other plans and I knew it was any day a better bet than landing up that workshop. I had half a mind to bake the resource person in a kiln. So a murder was averted because I had something fun to do that weekend.
In the evening, I got a call from a friend of mine from the workshop saying that she had picked up my terracotta pieces. The final day, it seemed turned out to be a big disaster. The pieces that the participants had made were mixed up, some where broken and some ended picking up another's art work. So while they were baking in the heat, I was chilling in an air-conditioned room, over cookies and pots of hot coffee.
Well the point is, organizers should be sensitive to the participants needs and not turn an event into just another money-making venture. More importantly, if participants are unhappy about the work, then they should come forward and express their opinions. Mumbling and cursing are hardly the solution to such greed.
But the silver lining: I made some interesting friends and we keep in touch!