ART for KERALA
Kerala is a tropical paradise that has always been near to my heart, and this year the people there needed (and still need!) our help. Every summer the rainy season hits South India, but the 2018 monsoon brought such devastation to the South Indian state that hundreds lost their lives due to heavy flooding, and roughly 1,000,000 people were made homeless and ended up sheltering in refuge camps. Reservoirs burst, landslides buried homes, bridges broke down and roads are in disrepair.
In the past I've been fortunate to have personally received some of the 'every day generosity' that is part of the Keralan way of life. Once I was even nursed to health in the home of a kind stranger, a family in my village who looked after me for a couple of days when I suddenly became ill. And so it especially pained me to know that so many of these families are suffering severely; I had to do something to help. That is why in August 2018 I set up an art auction to donate 100% of sales to those affected.
SILENT AUCTION: HOW IT WORKED
"Kerala Fisherman" is a painting that I created after living in the village of Kurakkanni, Kerala, in 2014-2015. It is a portrait of a local fisherman on Edava Beach, fixing his fishing net after his morning catch. The acrylic paints used were purchased in the art shop of Cochin, Kerala.
The painting was up for silent auction from August 25-September 9th 2018. Those interested in owning the artwork were invited to send an email bid with the amount they would donate if they received the painting. The highest bid submitted by September 9th received the painting, and 100% of the payment was directed through official channels to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund in Thiruvananthapuram.
The international media covered the story to begin with and vital aid began to reach those suffering via donations from throughout India and around the world. However as the rains ceased the story died down and funding began to dry up too. So often the case, we forget that these long months after the initial devastation are in fact the time when people really need our help. The slow struggle of rebuilding lives, villages, infrastructure. A steady effort of getting basic resources back to families, and getting those families back into their own homes. Thanks to you guys and your interest in this artwork, on September 11th 2018 a large sum of money was received by the Principal Secretary of the Kerala Relief Fund, to be directed to those that need it most.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those that participated, donated or shared the initiative. I’d like to say a special thanks to Cal Fussman for mentioning our project during his wonderful and thought provoking podcast series ‘Big Questions’, as well as to Chris Croft for exhibiting the painting at The Ashtanga Yoga Workshop in Exeter and arranging the pickup. FInally, a big thank you to Julia Oughtibridge for your generous donation and kind heart.
Stay tuned for updates on this story later this year. I’ll be returning to Kerala in early 2019 and will follow up with the path that this donation has taken.