When Sheil and Minoo Sadwelkar started VCW Academy 18 years ago, they had only 29 students. Today, the academy has grown with over 1000 children having learnt from the two artists. As teachers and mentors, they have introduced a generation of kids to different forms of art, preparing them to be the future of design, architecture, animation, painting, photography and film making.
Bringing out the vast imagination and creativity in little children, Minoo teaches and introduces them to different mediums of expression till they are old enough to be mentored by Sheil. The Pre-College Internship Programme (PCIP) is a course that is prepared by him to make the young learners aware about the different aspects of design, art, photography and filmmaking. A graduate of Sir JJ School of Arts in 1985, Sheil has earned his name as a fine artist as well as in the fields of advertising and print making. “There is a lack of awareness amongst parents. There is a difference between fine arts, commercial arts, painting and design. I started giving workshops at several design schools. I enjoy teaching and training students. My kind of art is very conceptual, not abstract. It is pure drawing, you can’t cheat it.” His style of drawing uses a ball point pen to make intricate patterns that form a bigger picture. ‘The Power of Point’ as Sheil calls it, is a statement that remains true to his work.
The academy, located on Kondhwa Road, is adorned with several paintings, drawings and miniature sculptures made by their students. Sheil and Minoo’s home is no different, it welcomes all with drawings, right from the passage to every nook and corner that is painted in grey scale.
Most of their students from the older batches are now studying in prestigious art and design colleges in India like National Institute of Design (NID) and DSK International Campus. As teachers, both Sheil and Minoo despise the use of mobile phones by their students in class. “It is a great sign when the children forget their phones at home. It shows that they are determined and focused. Drawing requires consistency and patience.”
Speaking about how she introduces different forms of art to young ones, Minoo explains, “These children are very observant. Their minds are like a sponge. We have to think every week about how we can challenge them. They are so open and not reserved. The kids these days are very smart and sharp. Their motor skills are good because of their use of technology but somewhere their innocence is lacking. Earlier, kids were more curious but since the last two to three years I have been observing that for them everything is possible and available at an instant.”
Teaching art since 18 years while being innovative is a challenge that this duo gladly takes up, but has the present generation’s approach to art changed?
“Kids don’t ask questions and that is very dangerous. Our challenge is to connect these kids with nature. The grown up ones are habituated to take things for granted. It is a killing thing! If they are asked to do something, they know it in their mind but they can’t put it to paper. There is frustration and this later leads to depression. There is a huge block and this affects their drawing,” says Sheil.
The key to producing meaningful art, according to the artistic duo, lies in subconscious thinking and philosophy, “You have to be able to explain what you’re doing. There has to be a concept. Only those who stick to purity and the academic aspect of it will produce good art.”
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