Since 2003, Britto has been celebrating the International Artists’ Workshop bringing together every two years a group of 20 artists from Bangladesh and abroad to work together and share ideas and knowledge. The Workshop usually takes place for a period of two weeks in an environment outside usual exhibition spaces. With participating artists’ from India, China, Iran, Italy, Germany, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyztan as well as Bangladesh, this year’s workshop took place from 24th of November till December 2nd.
Unlike the venues of the previous workshops (Tepantor Film City in 2003, Nijera Kori Centre in 2005 and 2008), this year’s workshop took place in different locations of the Panam Nagar vicinity, which comprises an abundance of historical magnificence. As Britto’s Coordinator, Tayeba Begum Lipi, explains: “Sonargaon is the ancient capital of Isa Khan's kingdom in Bengal. The imperial Mughals ruled Bengal, and thus Sonargaon, for nearly a century before Bangladesh was founded in 1608. People are attracted by its immense beauty and the architectural ruins of buildings that date back to the era of Bengal. The Folk Art and Crafts Museum with its beautiful trees, gardens, pond and lakes is located next to our venue BACE (Bangladesh Association for Community Education).”
During the workshop, the artists spent their days experimenting with new ideas in response to the new setting and the new perspectives gained from working with full freedom and without preconceived ideas or concepts. Such an experience allowed for meaningful artistic exchanges between the local and international artists. “Throughout the whole time period, the artists exchange their thoughts with one another via their own dialogues”, comments Lipi. Furthermore, there were presentations and discussions by each artist every evening which opened up a space for the artists to get to know each other, to exchange ideas and experiences and to get to know the art scene in each particular location.
At the end of the workshop, the 20 participating artists showcased their works in the Open Studio Day on December 3rd. This was an invaluable opportunity for the artists to present their work and talk about their experiences with the local public.
This kind of event has a special significance in the local context. As Lipi comments: “A vital role of the international workshop is to create a bridge with the locality, to learn the culture and life style through a day to day relationship and apply the connection by producing own work. The artists take advantage of the local technicians and artisans individually. This way both local and international artists build a vast community that is involved with the products and in the end bring in huge number of curious crowd on Open Day.”