Ramawatar Singh from Rajasthan, a creative naturalist who experiments with an aim to conserve nature, is conducting a workshop on making jewellery using seeds and natural materials on May 1 and May 2 at Goa Chitra Museum, Benaulim. NT BUZZ speaks to Ramawtar about his work
SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
The Goa Chitra museum, Benaulim has been organising various workshops that promote ethnic and contemporary art practices in an attempt to introduce and involve both children and adults to the wonderful world of arts and crafts. The next workshop is scheduled for today and tomorrow, May 1 and May 2, 2018 in a bid to explore organic and eco-friendly jewellery. This unique and contemporary style will be taught by jewellery artist from Rajasthan, Ramawatar Singh.
Ramawtar hailing from a village in Ajmer district of the desert state is a naturalist in true sense of the term; he explores and experiments to protect nature and uses his innovative ideas to give back to nature. Born into a family of farmers, he now practices the trade only in monsoons, as his village is located in the arid area of Rajasthan. Though from a small village, his unending quest for knowledge has taken him across the country.
Early in life, Ramawtar a school dropout surprisingly sought to teach at the Barefoot College, an NGO in Rajasthan with their philosophy that a villager can do a lot if given the right opportunity. “Initially I worked there as a teacher, and later worked as a coordinator of the alternative school programme supervising 150 schools across five districts of Rajasthan,” he says. Running night schools in different villages where children who would go to work in the morning, the NGO would impart basic literacy with regards to their own work. “For example, a boy who works in a farm would be given examples related to farming to impart the basics,” says Ramawtar.
Though he was doing his bit, he moved on from the NGO to gain a deeper understanding of nature. Moving to Udaipur, he joined Shikshantar – a movement for ‘re-thinking education and development’ where he worked for six years. “Although I don’t live there anymore, I am still a part of that movement in a way. Shikshantar is more about exploring the possibilities besides the mainstream ideas of development.”
To change his lifestyle further, the restless soul set his footsteps back to organic farming and began work in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and some areas of Rajasthan. He says that his father was very happy when Ramawtar decided to get his hands into farming.
But creativity got the best of him always; with a keen interest in papier-mâché, mask making and other craft arts Ramawtar also loved to spend time in the jungles and forests and found a way to connect his two passions. “I love nature and I usually take people for jungle safari walks, bird watching and tell them about herbs and other plants. After the safari, I teach them to do masks of the animals they saw, or after bird watching I teach them to make sculpture of birds using papier-mâché, this is the way I use my art!”
From there he then began to take keen interest in jewellery making. When he was in Udaipur, he would collect seeds for gardening and to help city dwellers have their small gardens in their yard or terrace. “While collecting the seeds I realised how beautiful some were; they were all different from each other in colour, hue, size, shape and I wondered if I could make something using them,” he says. He had seen a friend using beads to make jewellery which then gave him the idea to make seed jewellery.
“For my jewellery, I use seeds of trees like Indian screw tree, Indian tulip tree, tiger claws, sword bean, tendia that are durable and have unique hues; I use copper or brass wire to hold them together. The organic jewellery is eco-friendly and beautiful,” he says. Today his organic jewellery is made up of a wide range of items including shells, feathers and other natural material.
A staunch believer in sharing of knowledge, he passionately conducts workshop on making organic jewellery across the country. “There are rare times when I share my jewellery, in fact most of the times I do not tag any price to them. I tell my customers to pay how much of what they feel the piece is worth,” he says.
Ramawtar is also adept at using the tie-and-dye method and fabric painting, making hand-made books for children and also practices Jin Shin Do, a body-mind acupressure technique since 2008 and conducts self-healing workshops. “I also go for cycle yatras. A group of 15 to 20 people, we explore and move to a new village without carrying any money or technology, and stay there for a week. The objective behind this is to learn to explore and learn lessons from villages and nature,” he says, adding that interacting with elders of a village to understand the ideal lifestyle of humans in different regions is very fulfilling.
Every village or locality has its own speciality, for example in the arid areas of Rajasthan, he says, nature has evolved with plants that suit the climate. “Every area has its specialty and produce. The species may be different but you will see greenery in arid areas of Rajasthan too. People are not using their land and climate to produce the things that are suitable for the region as well as for the people living there. For example, nowadays, people in Rajasthan try to produce commercially-viable crops like rice and wheat that require a lot of water,” he informs.
Ramawtar lives with his wife and two children in Rajasthan; while his wife is who holds the fort of household chores, his 18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son enjoy travelling with their naturalist father. He says he lives two kinds of lifestyle, one where he experiments to earn and other where he explores to live in nature. He is currently working at Jim Corbett National Park at Uttarakhand as a naturalist.
At the workshop at Goa Chitra Museum participants will get the opportunity to learn to make organic jewellery using natural material. On the basis of this training, participants can work with more intricate designs creating their own designer jewellery.
(Organic Jewellery making workshop by Ramawtar Singh will be held today, May 1 and tomorrow, May 2 at Goa Chitra Museum, Benaulim. For further details call 2772910-11, 09850466165 from 9 am to 6 pm or email on firstname.lastname@example.org)