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Art from the heart

Gold French and Indian artists are celebrating the 50th anniversary of homeless children’s shelter Sneha Sadan with installations showcasing their lives

art and culture Updated: Jul 19, 2012 12:42 IST
Riddhi Doshi

Four months ago, a group of 125 children at Sneha Sadan, a shelter for homeless children in Andheri (East), were given an assignment — to draw and paint, on large sheets of canvas, images of what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Some drew doctors in white coats with stethoscopes around their necks; others, dashing young men waving cricket bats at arenas full of fans.

Sneha Kale, 11, an orphan found wandering alone at Borivili railway station in 2005, drew a gun.

“I want to become a soldier,” she says. “I like the police and military uniforms and especially the gun.”

Giggling, Kale adds that she also liked drawing and she liked the workshops with the artists who taught her how to correctly hold a brush and use colours.

The artists in questions are Christine Delbecq, Emmanuelle Grand and Alain Steck, who travelled to the shelter all the way from France to conduct the workshops.

They then created collages of the drawings, forming large panes that they pasted over white canvas cubes to form an art installation.

This installation is one of two — the other was put together by a group of senior Indian artists — created to celebrate Sneha Sadan’s 50th jubilee.

Both installations will be on display in the city till July 5 (see box), and will then travel through Lyon, Dijon and Paris in France, in January 2013.

Titled 50 Years of Love, the special art project was initiated by French TV director Vincent Lauth. Sneha Sadan has had strong ties to France since its inception, with the AFEA (French Association for Abandoned Children) being its main sponsor.

“I have been especially touched by Sneha Sadan’s philosophy of serious work,” says Lauth. “When AFEA president Claude Nevers told me about the golden jubilee, I immediately told him that I would like to do something special to celebrate these 50 years of helping street children and these 50 years of love. I thought an art project would be a good idea to help these kids express their thoughts and make people aware of the plight of homeless children.”

The second installation, titled Dream Catchers, was created by senior Indian artists Brinda Miller, Arzan Khambatta and Sunil Padwal and feature photographs, toys and wish cards of the Sneha Sadan children, placed in large metal mouse traps.

The cards were made during a special workshop conducted by the artists; most of the children’s wishes relate to reuniting with or meeting their lost families.

The installation is made up of 300 of these mouse traps put together to form a giant cube.

“We wanted our installation to represent the kind of life these kids live,” says Khambatta.

Sneha Sadan, founded by Spanish priest Fr Ricardo Frances SJ in 1962, provides food, clothing, shelter and education to homeless children until the age of 21. A total of 40,000 children have passed through the organisation’s 19 shelters over the past 50 years.