International Workshop on Kerala Murals
March 6, 2023 @ 9:00 am – March 12, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
Kerala Murals are a vibrant reflection of the culture of Kerala, in southern India. Panchavarna as practiced in the tradition involves the use of five primary colours – yellow, red, green, white & black in a strategic order & symbolic aesthetic. Yellow & red represent Rajas, green symbolises Saatvik & white for Tamas. Typically used to ornament palaces & temples featuring Hindu gods and goddesses, over time Kerala mural style was also adapted for use in churches and mosques. After losing patronage during the colonial period in India, the tradition began to die out. Only seeing a revival after a devastating fire at Guruvayur Temple in 1970 that damaged precious frescos on three of the walls of the Sanctum sanctorium. After seeking out artists to undertake the repairs it became evident that they were few and far between. This inspired the establishment of the Institute of Mural Painting Guruvayur to teach and promote the ongoing appreciation for Kerala murals as a living tradition.
Esteemed artist Suresh K. Nair will be sharing with us in detail this tradition unique to the southern state of Kerala. Over one week Suresh ji will teach the practical aspects of the technique along with the history, cultural perspective & aesthetics. Kerala murals, an example of a dry fresco technique, utilise natural stone pigments applied over a triple layered dry lime plaster base.
Meet the Artist – Suresh K. Nair
Suresh is a passionate mural artist. He has created a range of both public and private murals with India and abroad. He graduated from a five year degree program at the Institute of Mural Painting Guruvayur, Kerala in their first batch. After which he went on to study at Shantiniketan where he gained further exposure to other unique Indian art traditions, as well as western traditions. He found particular inspiration in Italian Sgraffito and Mexican mural traditions.
Suresh is a humble soul with a passion for lifelong learning. He loves to share art and the joy it brings with all no matter what their experience level may be. He is also experienced in Jaipur Fresco, Sgraffito, terracotta murals and miniature painting. All of this talent he shares with his very fortunate students in his role as Assistant Professor in the Painting Department at Benares Hindu University.
To learn more about Suresh & his work visit:
What You Will Learn
- Introduction to Kerala Murals including the history & adaptation of aesthetics from Palaces to Hindu Temples, Christian Churches and Mosques.
- Aesthetics and Iconography
- Fresco Secco Technique
- Design Principles & Philosophy
- Wall Preparation – Three Lime Plaster Layers
- Natural Stone Pigment Preparation & Application
- Brush Making
- Drawing and Painting in the Kerala style
- Finishing & Varnishing
- Theoretical Introduction to Lime as Relevant to the Base Plasters.
- There are no pre-requisites to attend this workshop. It is open to all with an interest. Suresh ji is highly skilled at teaching to all levels. Whether you are a a complete beginner or a lifelong artist your participation will be tailored to your skill level.
- This is a non residential workshop. Accommodation will need to be arranged off site at your own expense.
- Day 1 – Introduction to the technique, its history and expression in different contexts such as palaces, temples, churches and mosques. Preparation of wall – First layer of plaster. Drawing and aesthetics.
- Day 2 – Presentation on aesthetic rules of Kerala Murals. Preparation of second layer of plaster. Stone pigment preparation. Finalising of drawing and transferring onto the wall
- Day 3 – Making of traditional brushes using natural grasses. Third layer of plaster. Beginning of colour application to the mural.
- Day 4 to 7 – Painting of the mural according to rules of colour order and application. Finishing with varnishing & protecting the murals.
Inclusions & Cost
- Participation in a small group workshop with ample opportunity for one on one engagement and guidance from Suresh ji.
- All materials and tools.
- One small mural panel 1ft x 1ft to work on and take home. These panels consist of a frame made of Sheesham wood with lime plaster infill. (Additional panels can be ordered & paid for separately)
- Lunch & morning and afternoon tea.
- Drinking Water
Our Host – Dr Abrol – Kalakshetra Aravindam
Dr Lokesh Abrol is an MD by profession and a philanthropist by heart. He shares our passion for the conservation of precious cultural heritage. That passion is what inspired him to establish a gurukul to teach underprivileged children heritage arts. He currently has around 200 children, mostly girls studying Bharatnatyam & Kathak dance, Kalaripayattu martial art, Geeta Vachan, Indian Classical vocals & Madhubani painting. The gurukul is located in Gurgaon, however Dr Abrol has also created a calm, green botanical oasis around 1/2 an hour from the gurukul which is used for hosting workshops and performances of the children. This garden oasis will be the site for the workshop. We are excited to be adding a Kerala mural to this special place and you participation in the workshop is making it all possible.
To learn more about the Gurukul visit https://aravindam.org/
Accommodation is not included in the workshop fees. There are numerous hotel options in Manesar which is just 7 km from the site. Closer to the date we will attempt to have a list of suggested properties and will try our best to connect participants looking to share a room and transport to the site. ***Dormitory accommodation is available on site for those who are comfortable living very simply and desirous of the most economical or sociable stay. Please get in touch for details regarding this option.
What to Bring
- Refillable water bottle
- Sunscreen & hat
- Moisturiser – Working with lime can dry your hands.
- Work gloves – we will provide surgical gloves for use with lime. If you require something more heavy duty please BYO
- Warm comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty
To register your interest or ask any questions please sign up on the following link https://forms.gle/Sm7gm8b8Mmo2Ejwd7