Go with the flow

Published: Nov 10, 2012, 08:36 IST | Fiona Fernandez |

The Enduring Ark is a pop-up book with a difference. Not only does it retell the popular Bible story, Noah's Ark in an Indian milieu but it also showcases the vibrancy and life-like appeal of Patua scroll paintings throughout the story

In the buzzing, sometimes predictable landscape that is the children’s book space, it’s easy for titles to get overlooked. A few stand out for their content, others, for their layout and high-value production, and the rare few for both aspects. The Enduring Ark, Tara Books’ out-of-the-box titke, is quite literally, out of the box.

Publisher Gita Wolf worked closely with Patua scroll artist Joydeb Chitrakar on this fascinating Indian version of the Biblical story about Noah’s ark and the great flood. Resembling an accordion, this book will delight and engage the young and adult reader alike, not just for its unique layout but also for its simple, lucid narrative of an oft-repeated story. The Indian landscape, colours and interpretation is a delight for the art lover as well.

Having met with Bengal based artist Joydeb and wife Moyna Chitrakar a few months ago at a common platfrom in Delhi, it was easy to relate to their art, which they maintan, often doubles up as social messages used as messages from district to another. The duo works in tandem, and are a delight to watch at work, as they bring to life their world: daily events, events, animals and forests in these scroll paintings. Publisher and co-creator of The Enduring Ark, Gita Wolf shares about the journey that ensued.

(Clockwise) Gita Wolf, Moyna Chitrakar with husband Joydeb Chitrakar worked on the Patua panels that graced The Enduring Ark

Why this particular epic story, and more importantly, why an Indian re-telling?
It is a universal story, in a sense, and Patua artists are always interested in new mythic tales. It seemed a very good fit.

How did you zero in on this particular style of folk art to tell the story?
The flow of the water...suggested the form. The Patua community traditionally use this motif to link all the elements in a traditional scroll. We thought it would be wonderful to have a horizontal Patua scroll, instead of a vertical one.

Less copy, more visuals. Yet one is able to get a grip of this popular story throughout; how did you and Joydeb work together on this seemingly fascinating epic?
By narrating the story to him, and discussing the best ways of illustrating it, in the form of a long scroll, which also doubles as a book.

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