Glenfiddich Artist in Residence
Slightly over a decade ago, Glenfiddich initiated its Artist in Residence Program. And in 2009, the celebrated single malt whiskey brand announced the inclusion of India in the program as well. ‘The residency is a very generous award,’ says Andy Fairgrieve, program coordinator. ‘It’s an award of 10,000 pounds. We arrange for the travel from (the artist’s) home country and back. S/he is given accommodation – they have their own space, privacy, and are welcome to interact with other artists.’ The artists for the residency are young and promising individuals, meticulously handpicked from a motley crowd of talent and then shipped off to the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. For three-months they intermingle with like-minded painters, sculptors and mixed media artists. ‘And this is one of the hallmarks of the residency,’ adds Andy, ‘which allows artists to be social and to interact with each other. And this is essentially what drinking Glenfiddich whiskey is about. It’s about bringing people together to create good, strong social bonds.’ By the end of the residency, each artist creates a new piece; one inspired by his/her surroundings and of course, the distillery itself.
Now in its fourth year in India, Glenfiddich recently hosted the Five for The Future evening (supported by Bestcollegeart.com) at Nature Morte gallery, Oberoi Hotel, Gurgaon, where five Indian artists shortlisted for the residency (out of 487 entries) displayed their artwork. While the likes of Peter Nagy (art curator and owner of Nature Morte), Rajshree Pathy (India Design Forum founder), Thukral & Tagra (fashion designer duo), Veer Munshi (artist) and Andy Fairgrieve were part of the jury, renowned artists Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher also greeted the event.
It was Juhikadevi Bhanjdeo from Bastar, Chhattisgarh who eventually recevied the Emerging Artist of the Year Award – an award which is also the passport to the prestigious residency. Juhikadevi’s work revolves around the system of pockets, ‘to me pockets symbolize different classes, casts, emotions and different individualities. In fact, the saree too is an extention of the pocket, where it actually wraps a woman and becomes a container to posses her.’ Her self embroidered, hand-woven saree on display, therefore echoes nuances of tribal cultue and life in Bastar, yet on a larger scale, talks about predominantly male society we live in. Her second work, a belt of 76 inverted khaki pockets, is a tribute to the lives of 76 policemen who were massacred in Chhattisgarh by Naxalites in April 2010.
Since the residency began in 2002, Glenfiddich has hosted 76 artists from over 17 countries. This year, it will host another brigade of eight artists, including Juhikadevi. ‘The relationships that we create with artists,’ says Andy, ‘is not just for the three months that they are here. They go on in life but we continue to have relationships with them, because our program is essentially about building relationships and maintaining those relationships.’ On being asked about the five Indian artists and the scope of Indian art abroad, he shared, ‘those shortlisted are all very young, but they are very passionate about their work, and I feel that although only one person is selected for the residency, all five of them should be fantastically proud of their achievement and making it to the final five… In India, there so much diversity in art – there is attention to craftsmanship, detail and a concern for humanity. It’s great to see Indian artists expressing their own Indian identity, and be very proud of their roots at the global stage.’_
By: Radhika Iyengar