Bhuli Art : A tale of revival and empowerment in Uttarakhand

The doodle of a pahadi girl endearingly called Bhuli, meaning “little sister” has become the expression of Uttarakhand’s cultural revival. With carefully crafted illustrations, Tanya Kotnala and Tanya Singh, are on a mission to document, showcase and recover the arts, culture and nutrition of their homeland through Bhuli art, a social enterprise platform.

Bhuli is a celebration of kitchen memories, countryside life, grandmother’s recipes, and traditional outfits. The duo tells us more

How did the doodle named Bhuli (meaning little sister), evolve to become your mascot?

Tanya K: I founded Bhuli in 2017. Throughout my college years, I researched and documented several communities across the Northeast for projects. Bhuli was born out of an idea of documenting the arts and crafts of Uttarakhand and showcasing them on a wider online platform.

Tanya S: I later joined Tanya K in her endeavour, and as a consequence, added the “nutrition” aspect to the brand.

Coming from different career backgrounds: designer and nutritionist, what led to a collaboration between the both of you?

Tanya S: I was working with the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Development, Uttarakhand in 2017 and was covering many health and nutrition based topics. I got in touch with Tanya K for illustrations and infographics that I wanted to use in my communication material.

We both felt that the arts and craft of Uttarakhand is unknown to many, as is the state’s culinary wealth. So, we decided to work on developing more awareness of these subjects.

Tell us a bit about your original art series and how you have evolved since then.

Tanya K: The first ever art series was the “Costume Culture of India” 2017. The series was converted into calendars and gained great traction on social media.

From selling around 250 calendars in 2017, we’re now selling 1000 in 2019! Our product development and marketing is better, and over the past two years we’ve launched almost eight successful art and nutrition series and converted them into products.

Despite going abroad for your studies, you still chose to return to your homeland. Could you tell us something about Uttarakhand that is close to your heart.

Tanya S: My course in Italy was actually what made me come back to India and I am so very grateful to my University for that. The title of the course was ‘Food Culture and Communication’ and we were exploring the different food cultures of Europe, their history, evolution, geographical factors that contribute, etc. It was so inspiring to see how people are protecting their traditional knowledge! It was then that I decided that whenever I return to India, that I would contribute in some way; to show people how rich the food culture of Uttarakhand is and how easily we are losing it all.

The food that we eat here is very simple yet very nutritious! My wakeup call was to see the pomelo tree in my neighbourhood being ignored. There was a time when I used to eat its fruit under the warm sun with the neighbours. But we no longer do it. It was heart breaking to know that that fruit doesn’t connect people anymore, like it did once.

How has your upbringing influenced your work?

Tanya K : Travelling gives you a lot of perspective and exposure. After traveling extensively you realize the difference as well as similarities in different cultures. We love to tap them and share our fascination about them with the world! My work was influenced greatly by the various local arts and crafts culture of several Indian communities. At Bhuli, we try to celebrate that daily!

Tanya S : My mother was a nutritionist herself, and my father loves eating so I guess it came to me automatically. Both of them were were particular about eating fresh, seasonal and local produce. My coursework both in India and Italy further helped to strengthen these concepts practically and theoretically which now reflects on our page.

What has by far been the most difficult yet rewarding project that you’ve undertaken?

All the projects we’ve undertaken so far have been rewarding, but our project “Calendar 2018: Lesser known dances of India” was one of the most challenging projects so far. The research and illustrations took almost three months to finish! But we were extremely happy with the outcome of the project!

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Holi Week Sale!! The Bhuli Calendar is on Sale for the coming week! (Shop link in our bio) . . About Calender 2018: Dance symbolizes celebration of life! Dances are also a source that express the identity and culture of people. India’s diverse culture has led to the origin of many dance forms; out of which very few are recognized and patronized.Like other art forms, dances are vulnerable to loss. Therefore, there is a need to conserve them by proper documentation. Bhuli’s 2018 calendar unfolds the diverse cultural heritage of India through its ‘lesser known dances’. It does so by illustrating twelve dances and associating them with the art form of their respective state they are practiced in. Cultural and intellectual diversity can be preserved if only the folk dances are safeguarded. These are the only sources that provide us practical knowledge about a culture, traditions, migration and religion. With every dance that dies, we are also terminating the genesis of many factions of the society. It is through these dances that a culture is preserved, communicated and passed on to the next generation. Cultural and intellectual diversity can be conserved only if it is practiced. . . . . #art #costume #red #sketchbook #traditional #illustration #doodle #instaartwork #ink #digitalillustration #instaartoftheday #sketch #sketchaday #draw #drawing #illustrators #artistoninstagram #india #arte #artist #nature #sketching #sketchbook #bhuli #traditional #calendar2018 #dance

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What would you like to tell the generation of artists who look up to you as an inspiration?

Three things!

1. Everybody has their own style of processing and painting. Never abandon that. It makes you stand out!

2. Practice! There’s no such thing as “god gifted talent.” All the successful artists we know work day and night to develop their skills.

3. Observe. Dedicate a few hours daily to observe things around you. The more you observe, the better your perspective and concepts will get.

Find more about Bhuli Art on their Instagram page here and look out for their new children’s book coming up next month!

Written By Angel Maria


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