Volunteering has been a part of my life for almost half a decade now. I’ve volunteered the most for events that are related to the environment. I, Sri Janani Madavan, am an aspiring photojournalist. That is what excited me when I was given an opportunity to volunteer for one of CPB’s workshops because I’ve never volunteered for an event like this before. The cyanotype workshop happened on 06 March 2021 at Kannagi Nagar, Chennai. This was a workshop for the children hosted by Varun Gupta at one of the Shishu Shakthi’s (NGO) centers.
I was there an hour before the workshop started to help the team with setting up for the workshop. With no clue what cyanotype was, the type of tools and chemicals made me more and more curious. Also, the thought of how clumsy I was when it came to handling chemicals during my school days made me a bit nervous. After setting up everything, I was able to figure out a little how cyanotype worked and the rest were explained by Varun.
He started off by explaining what cyanotype was, how it interested him and demonstrated to everybody how the printing process worked. Cyanotype is basically the photography blueprint that was practiced in the 19th century. It worked with the help of the chemicals Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate, some sunlight, and water.
There were two types in the printing process, one was the photogram which was the print of the leaves, flowers, and other objects, the other type was developing negatives of photographs. The process of printing was naturally beautiful, the colors involved and the birth of cyan excited the children just like it excited me.
Usually, it is a bit unbelievable when children come up with creative ways to implement their ideas into whatever they do. Their planning and design were so unique from one another. Some were more careful about what they did and how it was going to be. Some were quite lethargic and were in a hurry to see the outcome. But throughout the workshop, Varun, Gayatri, and Habiba made sure that everybody knew what they were doing and guided them. One thing that fascinated me was that the team did not have a no for an answer when the kids wanted to try out new things in their prints. They helped them with whatever they wanted to do, answering all the questions that they had.
At the end of the workshop, the prints that the children made were given back to them and they took them with a huge smile on their faces. The motive of the workshop was to bring back the long-forgotten printing technique to this world. Also, Kannagi Nagar, being the “Art District” of Chennai, had some new additions to their already existing art knowledge.
This workshop was supported by MurthyNAYAK Foundation.
By Sri Janani Madavan