Making Art & Heritage accessible to all; Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad

Making Art & Heritage accessible to all; Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad

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Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad
Studio śilpajīvikā – An art and heritage atelier
photographs: Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad

I have been particularly focusing my research on Urban Conservation and Regeneration, a fairly new concept in India, and the positive impacts heritage can have on development. The crux of the research is to address community involvement in the overall process and addressing heritage at various levels. My previous article, for example, on Shrimat Bhau Rangari Wada predominantly speaks about shared heritage and its irreplaceable impacts on present day society. Amalgamating the practice and research in heritage conservation and the artistic expression of my cultural background has yielded Studio शिल्पजीविका (śilpajīvikā), an Art and Heritage atelier. The intent of the studio is to amplify the importance of ‘shared heritage’ and also to enable the access of Art and Heritage to all’, says Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad, Urban Conservation architect, Studio śilpajīvikā – An art and heritage atelier 

Q. Tell us about yourself and why you chose to be an architect

Passion to profession – A fulfilling journey to becoming a conservation architect and an artist

The purpose of choosing any profession will be fulfilling only if the interest within the individual is fulfilled. As it is commonly told: “Choose a job you like and you need not work for one day. But choose a job which is not to your liking and you will be prisoned in labor for every day.” For any individual to deliver the best there must be interest and involvement.

From the age of 11 I’d wanted to be archaeologist until mainstream education convinced me that it wasn’t a real profession and only a professional course would get me somewhere in my career (probably something the society might even accept) and it took me a while to realize against that widespread notion. History classes were my favorite and travel to various historically important sites (thanks to my father) fueled my interest to learn more about our rich culture and heritage. The travel and subsequent research made one thing certain – the architectural marvels of the past are the amalgamation of a society’s heritage and history. (I was certain that with this, I could look at Architecture as the career choice) and becoming a trained conservation architect would get me closer to my passion. Accompanying my father for his research was a strong influence in me in getting to explore the creative side, apart from the fact that he’s a wonderful artist himself; I was exposed to the intricate Thanjavur paintings to the detailed Paintings of Kerala and Odisha, this has had a profound effect on me to take up a second calling in pursuing art.

India’s vast, diverse and alluring cultures and built heritage has had its impact on my thought process and has reflected in my choice of study to the kind of art I created. The roots of my ideologies were thus associated with my own culture and heritage, and the intense experiences from travelling.

As I recall vividly the details of my history text book, particularly of the Indus Valley Civilization piqued my interest to delve into ancient lifestyles, cultures, people and daily life. I would always picturize the events of history, as though they were a movie playing inside my head. This coupled with my travel to various historic sites and cities, Tanjore, Madurai, Mamallapuram, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, historic towns of Rajasthan, to name a few, were subconsciously feeding into my fascination to create a passionate career that revolved around the past, recreating, restoring and preserving cultural heritage for posterity to experience its impression on humanity.

My days in Architecture school in Chennai and the Masters study experience in Mumbai were filled with moments of realizing my purpose to be Conservation Architect. It has taken me to places around the world and I have endured new experiences and cultures, only to appreciate the riches we have as a country and feel strongly for its conservation.

Q. Tell us where you feel ‘a sense of belongingness’ when we talk about you.

“Architecture should speak of its time and place but should yearn for timelessness”

Being an ardent reader, books like the Empire of the Moghul by Alex Rutherford, It Happened along the Kaveri – A Journey through Space and time, the Last Mughal, the Kohinoor, etc. by William Dalrymple, painted images of the lived world. Some fictional, others travelogues and accounts, these have been my companion for the longest time and has brought life to those temples, palaces and mausoleums that I visited, giving me a sense of belonging.

Q. What is the best thing about being a conservation architect.

“Architecture is the biggest unwritten document of History”- Daniel Libeskind

The best thing about being a conservation architect is to be able to connect with the buildings as though they have feelings. I’ve always believed that the job of a conservation architect is more like a doctor’s, to bring life and save buildings in decay and distress.  It is rewarding to work closely with a historic building, uncovering the layers of heritage and striving to breathe a new leash of life to a building that’s timeless.

Q. What are you currently working on?

View of the 127 years old chariot that carries the Bhau Rangari Ganpati even today

I have been particularly focusing my research on Urban Conservation and Regeneration, a fairly new concept in India, and the positive impacts heritage can have on development. The crux of the research is to address community involvement in the overall process and addressing heritage at various levels. My previous article, for example, on Shrimat Bhau Rangari Wada predominantly speaks about shared heritage and its irreplaceable impacts on present day society.

Q. Tell us about your studio.

Amalgamating the practice and research in heritage conservation and the artistic expression of my cultural background has yielded Studio शिल्पजीविका (śilpajīvikā), an Art and Heritage atelier. The intent of the studio is to amplify the importance of ‘shared heritage’ and also to enable the access of Art and Heritage to all.