Akin to how most tourists in Goa would imagine, when I landed at the Dabolim airport, all I could think about was the sun, sand, food and high-octane music at a festival. But, this trip to the south of the state turned out to be different, and far more enriching. On this trip, I discovered Art Escape.
Located next to the Vaddi beach in the Benaulim region of South Goa, this back-to-basics eco resort is an art and design hub with an innovation centre and a knowledge sharing and experiential platform. A few paces inside, and the creative vibe had set in. I was welcomed by Mumbai boy, Darryl Noronha, who realised his dream of having a creative space in Goa in 2009 with help from his partner, Vinesh Iyer.
“It started as a pilot project — to promote all kinds of art and to also focus on music, film, dance and theatre. The cottages serve as residences where people can come and live. The space around is used for workshops and various performances and the restaurant is used for basically promoting food as art. It is an initiative driven by experienced professionals who have a passion for all forms of creative arts and have a desire to forever continue to meet interesting people, collaborate, learn and then share with individuals and communities,” says Noronha, who was joined by Sandra D’Souza, Carol and Deepak Pathania as the other partners in 2011.
Music on the cards
The space is currently preparing to host a three-day Folk music festival, beginning January 9 and including performances by Baul Fakiri from West Bengal, Orient West Choir from Denmark and a traditional group of singers from Bihar. “Entry to the festival is free. We want people to experience and enjoy the music,” expresses Noronha.
In nature’s lap
What works for Art Escape is that it offers a close-to-nature experience with no other houses or resorts nearby, and the sound of waves as background music — the Vaddi beach is a 30-second-walk. Incidentally, nearby residents told us that the place is also a haven for bird watchers. “One can choose to participate in various workshops that we conduct or enjoy the remote stillness of the place.
Art Escape offers one peace and tranquility, and our friendly staff would be more than pleased to organise or guide sightseeing excursions and day trips,” informs Noronha, a painter and graphic designer, who was into branding in Mumbai before he chucked it all to find his calling in Goa.
The place is also high on green activism and makes sure that the place in an eco-friendly setting. Noronha explained that most material and structures built at the space is made out of bamboo and chattai. Besides, solar cookers are coming in this month; soon, they intend to start a clay kitchen as well, which will use only firewood.
The bigger picture
Art Escape doesn’t want to stop with this. Noronha shared that he and his partners have launched a bigger version of Art Escape, in Pune — The Inspire Project that will host an environment created to facilitate, motivate, nurture and inspire those who would like to experience, exchange, share and learn all forms of art and design.
“The Inspire Project will be realised through Inspire Trust that we are forming. This will take the support of individual, corporate and government funding to help reach our objective of a creative commune as well as solve social and sustainability problems in the local and far-off communities far away. The space will be much bigger,” he says. And, we can’t wait to feature it on our pages.