Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Bhil painter Bhuri Bai, who has been nominated as a member of the Bharat Bhavan Trust recently, wants to restore the Bhavan to its former glory. She also wishes the Bhavan to hunt for talented artists in the rural and tribal areas of the country.
A winner of Madhya Pradesh Government’s Shikhar Samman, Bhuri Bai, 52, will be conferred with Padma Shri by the President at Delhi next month. She is happy over her nomination to the trust.
Excerpts of her conversation with Free Press:
You are now a member of the Bharat Bhavan Trust. How do you feel?
My association with the Bhavan is very old. I worked as a labourer when the Bhavan was being constructed. I began as a labourer and now I have been made a trustee. I am elated. I had never imagined that I would get so much recognition and respect. The credit for whatever I have achieved must go to Swami ji (painter J. Swaminathan) and many others who encouraged me. Even today, when I visit Bharat Bhavan, I feel drawn towards its walls. I feel that Swami ji is still around and he is blessing me.
When did you come to know about your nomination?
I was informed by Shukla ji (Bharat Bhavan chief administrative officer Prem Shankar Shukla) last month that I have been made a ‘Nyaysi’. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know what I would have to do. I am yet to receive an official communication regarding my appointment. Since I don’t have an email ID, they will be sending a letter to my home.
What changes do you want to bring about in the functioning of the Bhavan?
Everything should be done in the best possible manner. Bharat Bhavan should be run as it was run during the time of Swami ji. He was a farsighted man. At that time, camps were held, workshops were organised. I want those times to come back.
I want the Bharat Bhavan to promote new artists. I was a labourer but Swami ji spotted my talent as a painter. Similarly, the Bhavan should make efforts to locate talented artists in rural and tribal areas of the country. It should not confine itself to the known artistes.
How has the Covid pandemic affected artistes?
It has ruined them. Some artists are selling vegetables on handcarts. Others are working as manual labourers. Take my own example. I used to sell my paintings for Rs 4-5 lakh every year. For the past two years, I haven’t sold a single painting. The government should help create a market so that both art and the artists can survive.
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