The Women’s Forum of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) in the UK collaborated with Kinetika, an internationally renowned arts organisation, to deliver a multifaceted project called ‘Diversity Through Arts’. The project took place over a span of two months and the initial workshops were held on 17, 18 and 19 December 2018 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly known as the 'Neasden Temple'). The project was grant-funded by Arts Council England in an effort to celebrate and spread awareness about diversity and equality’s vital role in arts and culture.
The ‘Diversity Through Arts’ project involved creating silk scrolls that depict stories about the achievements of women in the community. The silk scrolls are made using handmade silk from India and the process is extremely intricate and extensive. The workshops were split into multiple sessions; the first session introduced painting on silk and generated ideas on potential themes, while the second set of sessions involved designing the silk scrolls. The last set of workshop took place in January which included creating and producing the silk scrolls and took place at Kinetika’s studio in Purfleet, Essex.
The silk scrolls were created under the guidance of Ali Pretty, Artistic Designer of Kinetika, and Lisa Meehan, Lead Artist. Ali has collaborated with, and led teams of artists to deliver large-scale events to diverse audiences all over the world, including WOMAD, FIFA World Cup, and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Her artistic direction and her hand-painted silk designs are renowned for their quality, both in their individual style as well as their ability to engage and leave lasting legacies in communities and individuals alike.
Ali said, “It has been an absolute pleasure meeting with, learning from and working with this wonderful team of women. They have such incredible leadership qualities alongside a wide range of creative skills that they have transferred into the silk painting process. We are so looking forward to seeing the scrolls on display at the Neasden Temple for its 10th International Women’s Day Celebrations on 10th March.”
During the course of the project, the participants created 10 silk scrolls, each with a different theme. The themes include unity, selfless service, sacrifice, knowledge, humility, devotion and liberation, truth and righteousness, strength, strength, pride, and faith. The scrolls will be displayed at the tenth annual International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations at the Neasden Temple on Sunday 10 March 2019.
The participants were all of different ages and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working together to reflect on key themes related to diversity and portraying them in an artistic way. One of the participants, Bhavisha said, “It was such a fascinating learning experience for me. I enjoyed being able to create something so unique and beautiful with a powerful message. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product and celebrating the achievements of all women in the community at the IWD celebrations in March.”