For noted illustrator Venki ‘picture books’ turn into a strong medium to promote good causes beyond being just fun. And he conveyed at a three-day children's workshop which started on Tuesday at the ongoing 108-day Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
Picture books for him serve stories with a moral. “Sadly, we don’t notice that aspect much though we have all been reading picture books for years,” he says. “I did not want to influence them; so I did not intervene on the first day,” says the alumnus of College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, and illustrator for newspapers and books. “Rather, I chose to tell them a story. Based on it, they came up with a set of pictures. Today, I gave them a proper feedback.”
On Wednesday, 23 children from two schools in nearby towns attended the workshop, titled ‘Story-writing, Storytelling, Illustration’. Safeer Ahmad, a Class IX student from SDPY, Palluruty, came out with a well-structured picture book, having attended the workshop’s first day as well. “The class gave me a lot of ideas to think in different directions.”
Aein Diona Joseph from Our Lady’s, Thoppumpady, said the workshop kindled in her a love for picture books. “The workshop let me to know that the process of making picture books could be so interesting.” Venki has been involved in children’s books since 1991. Having illustrated 400 books for children, he was the editorial illustrator with an English daily for a decade and has won recognitions, including two state awards for children’s book illustration and cover designs.
The aim of this particular workshop is to give children a platform to come up with their own stories to develop into a picture book, according to Blaise Joseph, who heads the KBF’s Art by Children programme. “Children do learn a lot of stories like Panchatantra tales and Aesop’s fables. But they hardly get any opportunity to learn their regional stories,” he adds.
As they were seldom taught to think in different ways, imagination gets limited. “That’s why whenever we ask them to draw something; most of them come up with flat and repetitive pictures,” Blaise says.