Nikita Nath


Katha- Exploring stories, craft and play

This studio was all about stories, and depicting them in different ways. Throughout the semester, I explored different styles and methods to depict these stories. From writing and illustrating a storybook we went on to explore narrative crafts and how they tell stories. We visited a potters’ community in Gundiyali, a village in Kutch and created narrative maps of the people and the village, and I also created a card game based on Gundiyali.
View full story in Ex1: View game booklet: graphic novel:

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This story, “A Journey in the Hills” is about Khushi Amin’s road trip to Ladakh. It explores the collage- like graphical style of illustrator Chris Haughton. The story takes one through the terrains of Ladakh- the chilly mountains, the lush green ones that come as a surprise the dark, starry nights and the colourful prayer wheels at every turn. Image: book jacket and story-book spreads.

Story-book spreads

First, an emulation was done to understand proportions, human figures, colour palette, way of storytelling in the Phad craft. The narrative painting captures the most important events of my journey in the studio “Traveler’s Home” in the previous semester. Events like the studio interview, endless night- outs and site visits. Like composition of stories in Phad, events which were more significant are bigger as compared to smaller, recurring events.

Ex 4 involved mapping the potters of Gundiyali village. For the potters of Gundiyali, ‘maati kaam’ was not merely a job, but their entire life. I spent 4 days interacting with Yakub Bhai, a master craftsperson, and his family. This map is a family map showing the tasks done by different members of his family, and highlighting the role played by the women of the house.

An interesting facet about Gundiyali is that though all the potters practise the same craft, each family has a different way of going about it. The village map explores identity in relation spaces in Gundiyali. This map uses simple icons to define the aspects making up the identity of a particular space, apart from the physical aspects. I’ve graphically depicted different objects/ sounds/ activities that occupy a particular space.

‘Tod, Phod, Jod!' is a colourful card game that explores the role played by the women of Gundiyali in the craft process. It uses the concept of obtaining a sequence to educate people about the role of women. Interesting narratives about Gundiyali, and about the women are there in the form of trivia cards. Other activities done by women: parenting, cleaning etc. have been introduced as ‘doom cards’ which slow the players down.

These are the different types of cards in the deck. There are 78 cards in total. 54 playing cards + 5 trivia cards are used in every game. The trivia cards are drawn out at random so that there is new trivia to be gained in every game. Also shown below, is the simple tuck box packaging of the cards.

Also present as part of the game is an instruction booklet explaining the rules, how to play and the components of the game. It also provides background information about Gundiyali and the theme of the game and tells the story behind the different types of cards in the deck.

The final challenge was to write and illustrate a graphic novel set in Gundiyali. Creating a graphic novel was different from the story book in Ex 1, as it involved panels where we had to think of every frame in the story and I found this very challenging to imagine and sketch out. The story ‘Once Upon a Wall’ is the story of a wall in Yakub bhai’s house and is narrated by the wall himself.

‘Once Upon a Wall’ tells the story of an old, worn- out wall which resides in the house of Yakub Bhai, in Gundiyali. In a village engulfed with clay products of all shapes and sizes, why should this wall be made of any ordinary concrete? His story is about potters and pottery. Of experiments with clay, motifs and a household buzzing with activity. He’s resigned to the monotony of everyday life, until some new faces show up at their doorstep...