As part of the ‘Stillnessandme’ project we decided to explore ‘Stillness’ through a painting commissioned for ‘Lahe Lahe.’ The students came with their ideas. They sketched, discussed, reflected and they wrote poems in an effort to enter and explore stillness for almost five months. The time period saw them moving deeper in, and then out, as life and time does unto us. In and out of the canvas they played as their ideas fructified and manifested. Some moved in deep and some walked at the periphery, but everyone shifted.

Somewhere, somehow, in between the canvas and amidst the doing, the multiple hues of stillness touched us in different ways, and at different times, and called out to be recognized.

The painting came to be called… ‘In and out’

Over a period of five months Gayatri, Esha and Sheoli explored the concept of Stillness through a painting 10 by 7 feet long.

STILLNESS

Being still is not just standing or sitting in one place. It is clearing your mind of all thoughts, feeling the energy around you, hearing each and every little sound and feeling your heart, beating hard.
Feeling each blink of the eyelid and being aware of every breath taken in by the body. That is true stillness.
The first time I heard of this project, I thought it was the physical kind of stillness. People say mountains, plants and trees are still. They don’t move. The river is always moving, and so it is not still. But I disagree. The river, is oblivious to its surroundings. It skips and rolls over pebbles and stones happily, gurgling along, gently grazing its banks. The trees are always moving, rustling it’s leaves, whispering stories to one another! The flower blooms slowly, producing a sweet fragrance, calling out to the bees. We just need to stop for a moment and realize this. The stillness present even in movement.
Once these thoughts entered my head, my outlook on the subject had changed completely. I could relate to this feeling so well! This painting, is an expression; a thought of ours, on the subject.
When I first started, I was shy and confused. Sheoli had been my friend for a long time and I would only talk to her. I would nod my head and say ‘ya’ for everything the others said. I was too scared to express myself as I thought my ideas were silly. I did not understand fully what aunty was trying to say. When we started to paint, I was scared to paint. I was scared that I would make a mistake and spoil the painting! Once, when aunty was talking to us, I realised that I indeed had experienced this and suddenly everything made sense to me.
As the days went by, I found myself painting everyday! I, love music, dance and painting and I realized that art is stillness. When I lose myself in the melody of a song, and the beat of the dance, the colours and textures of a painting, I realized that I experience this kind of stillness almost all the time.
I started becoming bolder, as I met aunty and the others more often; and at one time, I decided I was going to tell aunty about my take on the subject. It was really different from what everyone else thought of.
When you have something close to you, you take it for granted, sure you love it but you never express it. It grows bigger in your heart, and then suddenly, one day, poof! It’s gone. The dark feeling in you, the feeling of utter emptiness, that was stillness to me!
I must say, once I told this to aunty, I felt a whole lot better, and I wasn’t scared of painting anymore. I went, painted, felt good and came back! When we finished the painting, the joy in my heart was indescribable! The only feeling in Me was pleasure! I did this for me. To make myself happy! And I must say, I’m proud of myself.
This is now one of my biggest achievements (In the 14 years of my life xD) and I would like to thank each and every person who has made this possible! At one point of time, I thought we would never get this done, but we did and it turned out better in every way, I had expected!
Thanks to aunty, for guiding me throughout this amazing journey; she was a wonderful mentor and without her none of this would be possible! Sheoli, Gayatri, Aarush and vineeta for being the best team mates ever! My mom, for all the support and for forcing Me to get up, stop being lazy and to go.
Thank you all for making this so perfect! 🙂

By Esha Shekar

It is the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that combine to give stillness. It persists deep within us pushed beyond into the depths under, overshadowed, by our thoughts, our certain emotions – fear, anger, guilt, our illusions etc. But it never gives away to the constant battering of our inner factors. It remains unmoved, it’s roots stretched wide under. It takes that one moment, that one occurrence wherein we rid ourselves of the bewitching acts of time. Time appears as an all-time supreme power, with the unbendable and to some, the unamendable capacity to, over leaps of it, overpower our stillness within, which we fail to notice. But as faithful as it is, our stillness doesn’t stir by the violent rapid movements of time, or so I believe time, sometimes is.

We unknowingly cling onto time, or move with it and it keeps us at a pace it desires, we attempt to contain it and fear to lose it, without realizing that time itself is comprised of tiny fragments of still moments. It is the stillness we should discover, step back and think, wonder over the beauty of it. Push away all fear, guilt and disillusion. Whether we are one whole within stillness or if stillness is one whole within us, I do not know. But what I know for certain is, stillness of each moment, keeps us at peace.

That is why we should embrace stillness.

My experience with the project has been enlightening and beautiful. The times I spent with Anuradha aunty discussing about ‘Stillness’ and painting with Esha and Gayatri, has been a great experience. As Rainbow Rowell rightly mentions, art is supposed to make you feel something and I hope that each and every one of you, after having looked at the artwork and the video would feel something about ‘stillness’.

Thank you for your patience.

By Sheoli Biswas