Pop your head into our Earth Studio and you are in for a visual feast. The creative space is adorned with Ganeshas, jewellery, bags, block printing clothing and clay work. What makes this workshop different is that the artists creating this art are children living with HIV, orphans who have lost one or more parents to the virus and young women rescued from prostitution. For them our Earth Studio offers a space to focus on bringing the beauty back into their lives.
One artist who had been dedicatedly working there since its inception is Ajay.”“I am making a special Ganesha and he is my favourite,” he says with a sheepish grin, showing the elephant-headed God he is painting.
Losing both his parents to AIDS at just seven years old, understandably Ajay felt miserable and lonely. This turned him into a difficult child with little interest in his studies, a short temper and few friends. Counselling from our teachers and caretakers had very little impact.
It was when Manjiri Thambe’s dream to train some our children in the art of terracotta and creating other artefacts was realised with the opening of our Earth Studio, that Ajay’s life was transformed. Manjiri says, “I immediately spotted a special talent in Ajay and I wanted to bring it out in creativeness and group work providing a sense of belonging and something to occupy the mind. So I spoke to him a lot, built a rapport, won his heart and as he opened up so did his creativity, soon we both creating godly creations together. We sold our first batch of Ganesha idols three years ago and encouraged by this success, Ajay took more interest in his work. It was as if he had found a new meaning for his life. He is now in charge of the Earth Studio team encouraging others to get involved. He says, “I am happy working here and hope one day I can open my own Earth Studio.”
All of the products from our Earth Studia are made to sell. Make sure you pop by the studio next time you visit Ahmednagar and you can also see and buy some of the work on our facebook page.
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