Craft: Gond painting, Madhya Pradesh
Kaushal’s interest in painting happened early in life. Born in Patangarh village, Dindori district, he is the only son and the youngest among five siblings. He drove his mother crazy by drawing on the walls of his house using soot from the kitchens. This was also the time that Gond painting was garnering fame through the bold works of Jangarh Singh Shyam. The youngsters from the impoverished village looked up to the stalwart and adopted his style as a means of escaping poverty.
Sadly, this tryst ended abruptly when his father, the sole breadwinner passed away. Kaushal rose to the occasion. Abandoning his interest in painting, he moved to Bhopal and worked in odd jobs to support his family. Once he found a regular job as compounder in a doctor’s clinic, he started painting again. He reminisces that his measly salary of Rs.3000 seemed like a fortune to him. Slowly and steadily, he started selling at exhibitions.
Incidentally, we met Kaushal at one such exhibition in Delhi. Impressed by his colour combinations, we decided to collaborate with him a few months later. One project led to another and seven years later, Kaushal, a full-time Gond artisan is an integral part of the CraftCanvas family. His wife, Mangli, a budding artist herself, and his three children visit us often. In the intervening years, we have seen his tin-roofed home become a pukka two-storey structure. He now owns a motorbike and his family is secure with health insurance.
The alarming trend is for artisans to give up their craft and move to unskilled labour. Kaushal’s story gives us hope that passion, hard-work and opportunity can change this scenario. We are happy to be a small part of this success story.