In India a storyteller’s box is called a Kavaad. It is a three-dimensional form of traditional Indian storytelling. The box is made of folded panels that unfold to reveal a story or a series of stories about a character. Traditional Kavads tell stories about Gods and Goddesses and so the storytelling box is also a moveable temple, revering a particular God whose altar or shrine can be found hidden behind the inner doors of the box.
So why am I writing a blog about Kavaads? Besides of course the fact that they are beautiful and extremely interesting objects? Well it’s a long story and it all began when I signed up for a course a Gustavo Puerta’s Escuela Peripatética called La Lectura del Ilustrador in February of 2014. What I thought to be a 4 month workshop turned into a long term project, at times obsessive and all consuming.
The course began by reading lots of classic tales, studying their structures and analysing them. The idea was to choose one story and spend the duration of the course working on it, appropriating the story and adding to it our own personalised readings of it. We worked with visual tools such as ex-libris and chapter letters at the beginning. Then moved on to work on the characters, for which we turned to Chinese shadows. Then when we had advanced in our own story, we were each assigned a traditional storytelling object. These ranged from altarpieces, kimonos, emakis to my kavaad.
What followed were months of research, a trip to india and a beautiful encounter with a very special carpenter who has built me my very own kavaad. And now, with only a couple of months to go before our collective exhibition, I have decided to write this blog to document all my work until now and everything I have yet to do!