MAATI GHAR - The Beginnings

Me with Vijay Ji when it all started

MAATI GHAR’ came across as a vision in 2015 when I met Vijay Ji in his village Amadubi which can be also called Painters’ Village because of the community that resides there. Chitrakars or Painters is a community found in regions around the borders of West Bengal and Jharkhand. The community members can also be found in the Dumka district of Jharkhand where they do Jadupatua Paintings. Today, all the members happen to share a common fate because they are giving upon their tradition of painting scrolls with natural colours, due to the lack of support in the form of promotions and training.
This is what Vijay Ji said when I first met him.

Those lines were enough for me to lose my sleep. I decided to explore the condition of other artisans practicing different art forms across the state. For the next six months, working in a small team, we visited various regions of Hazaribagh and Dumka only to find the same situation everywhere. During that course, I found my companion Sandeep who was pursuing his Bachelors in Fine Arts.

Sandeep collecting motifs from a rural woman of Hazaribagh

We were now determined to support these artisans in whichever way possible. But we had our own challenges for we were short of time and funds. I had just left my job as a Business Analyst at an MNC after listening to my heart. I also did my Diploma in Entrepreneurship and Business Management from EDII, Ahmedabad. Since my college days, when I used to serve as Student President of  Entrepreneurship Development Cell of the institute, I always aspired to be a social entrepreneur, but some financial debts kept me tied to my futile job. After a five-day meditation program I was able to break out of my fears and thus leave my job. So, when I stumbled into these paintings I was working as a school teacher and setting up a low-cost hobby class for underprivileged children with my friends. As Sandeep was yet to finish his studies, we used to have very less time to support the cause, still we continued doing our bit. We made an online store to sell their paintings, organized training sessions, conducted workshops in schools and held exhibitions across cities to promote the art forms, all at our personal expenses.

Me and Sandeep with then Youth, Arts & Culture minister of Bihar, Shri Shiv Chandra Ram and then President of Bihar Lalit Kala Academy, Shri Anandi Prakash Badal at our exhibition in College of Arts & Crafts, Patna

Today I have left teaching to devote full-time to MAATI GHAR (a hybrid organisation). Sandeep has joined full-time too. We have some other friends contributing in some way or the other through different locations. The best part is we have a lot of great advisors guiding us at every step, they are pillars of our strength (see our Board of Advisors section).

Me with Shri Bulu Imam at his home in Hazaribagh, the one and only “Sanskriti”

About supporting art and artisans, we have been able to successfully preserve Paitkar art form by passing it into the hands of the next generation from Vijay Ji’s hands. He now teaches the nuances of his painting style to young children without compromising the traditional nature of the paintings. Children love to grind stones, leaves and flowers to create beautiful colors out of them. It’s the most interesting hobby of my hobby classes which run on weekends. Meanwhile, Vijay Ji now has a regular source of income for himself, paintings sold by us for him every month add to his income too. Now, we are aiming at helping other artisans as well and with your support we can achieve success at a faster pace.
This is what Vijay Ji has to say.

– Virendra Kumar (Founder, MAATI GHAR)