Vanasthali School Project


Acting Locally - Thinking Globally

In 2006 British photographer Kajal Patel spent 8 months in the Indian city of Ahmedabad during which time she worked on her project ‘Satyaprakash' - (Light of Truth). On her return she worked with Charnwood Arts to create what became known as ‘The ‘Ragpickers’ exhibition which toured to schools and other venues with accompanying workshops.

This work became known to the organisers of the Gammelgaard Monochrome photographic competion in Denmark who donated the proceeds of sales from their exhibition (later added to by sales from Charnwood Arts tour of the exhibition to the UK) to further Kajal Patel’s work with young people in India.

This is a partnership project between Lightseekers (Kajal Patel) and the Charnwood Arts’s People Making Places programme.

Charnwood Arts has enjoyed a relationship with Vanasthali School in Valod Taluka in South Gujarat in India for in excess of 30 years. Vanasthali is managed by the V.P.S.S Trust and most of the children are from either poor or tribal families. Through the generous donations arising from Gammelgaard Monochrome we were able to undertake further project work with the children at the school. Previously we have been able to commission artists and a sports officers to work with the children on a variety of projects.We have also made our own film about the school in the year of the 50th Anniversary of Indian Independence.

This time, Kajal Patel undertook to spend two weeks at Vanasthali teaching the children about photography. We were able to use some of the funding to send cameras and technical equipment for the children to use. The workshops have enabled the children to learn about light, composition and perspective. The children were able to view their work on laptops and projectors so they could improve on their skills.

The work in India will cascade down into a project that we have locally with Outwoods Edge Primary School in Loughborough who have worked with us for the past three years on our ‘Flavour of India' project. Outwoods Edge are interested in forming an ongoing relationship with a school in India, so Vanasthali was perfect! In December the Outwoods Edge children wrote pen friend letters about their school, families, hobbies, pets and lives in the UK to send to the children at Vanasthali, and whilst Kajal was in residence she encouraged the children to do the same thing for the children at Outwoods Edge. This is still an embryonic project with some of the children taking a real interest in photography and showing some real skills… early days...who knows what the future holds!


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