IFA Project Kicks Off.

After 4 years of trying, on the fourth attempt, IFA said Yes. I received an e-mail on March 1, 2011, that my proposal had been accepted. It had in the meantime been refereed, and the referee's note was attached to the mail. The comments:

MOVING MURALS. Summary of Review.

1. This project is a very useful one. It also comes across as thoughtfully drafted in its conception, implementation process as well as in terms of its positive impacts.

2. Snapshot

2.1 Digital stitching in full color depth, to actual size, is a very useful documentation technique necessary for the planning of actual physical conservation of mural paintings.

2.2 Digital tracing to scale prepares the base format on which a distress mapping or graphic condition report is prepared. Both 2.1 and 2.2 that the project proposes are often not done by the custodians who are supposed to be responsible for the upkeep of the site principally because of lack of awareness of the practicality of this documentation technique.

2.3 Reconstruction to the original colour palette should not be expressed as a finality as it will always be an approximation and conjectural in principle. Bhaskar could write : “Reconstruction to as near the original colour palette as possible, based on physical reference of paint from the mural fabric….” And a statement worded like this will be more acceptable to art historians and academicians and the ‘conservation-restoration’ community… and it will lead to a better appreciation of Bhaskars work instead of the other stakeholder communities closing ranks in a knee jerk sneering, skepticism and what- nonsense type of remarks. Bhaskar should check other remarks in his text too.

2.4 Working with traditional artists, (and not just kalamkari) who are versed in this ‘style’ of painting is a very good path to take to help propose the possible form of an incomplete part or a discontinuity of a mural to a great extent. The inclusion of (a) an art historian versed in this style of painting as well as of (b) additional master artists is essential as it is a good practice to check the consistency of the form that is added to the discontinuity by different artists. If the form made by all these different artists is similar, then we would be on the right track in our extrapolation.

2.5 Documentation of oral narratives of murals in extremely important in this context as is comparison of the puranic text (from where the narrators take their inspiration from) and the oral rendition. There will be a horizontal variety of renditions amongst the different communities as well as a vertical variety amongst the narrators according the variation to their age.

2.6 Character modeling and animation will bring the mural stories alive.

The project has very varied and wide ramifications and can create very useful linkages with efforts to conserve and revitalize our Mural paintings traditions as well as our sites.

The action begins. I immediately applied to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Trust, a body of the Ministry of HR&CE, the Government of Tamilnadu. This could take months. There is an election to the state assembly, and who knows, the Government could change, and even if doesn't, getting the permission is not going to be a walk in the park. I also organised a meeting of all the people likely to be involved in this project and put everybody on the alert for the talent and knowledge hunt, and for the field work ahead.

- March 31, 2011, after 'Team Chengam Mural' informally met at my residence. See Credits.