Catching Up With Catterfly’s Warli Art Lovers


Catching Up With Catterfly’s Warli Lovers

Written by Pooja Singh Sep 20, 2021
In these times of lockdowns and social isolation many of us have had a fresh perspective and appreciation of the importance of community building. Art and culture are intrinsic to a thriving community and here at Catterfly, we were lucky to have witnessed this firsthand in the past year and a half. Through multiple art forms and cultural events, we now have a community of people who want to understand traditional Indian arts better and have a verifiable appreciation for it.

Few days ago, we had a wonderful opportunity to connect with some Catterflyers who have not only learnt Warli from our master artist Sanjay Sangle but have taken it to an altogether different level. It was a very interesting conversation and on our panel we had Kalpana Prasad, Seema Sinha, Hema Minakshi and Nithya Sridharan with her 7-year-old son Vidyut. The entire conversation is available at Catterfly’s YouTube channel at It was a fun meeting with several insightful thoughts from our participants.

For one, these art lovers embody the spirit of Warli tribe, whose art was described by Jivya Soma Mashe, father of modern Warli art: "Our history is not written, it is drawn: we tell you stories, we tell you about our life.” Warli is not a static art capturing a point in time. It’s a dynamic storytelling medium that was originally painted during harvests and marriages to capture the gaiety of the goings-on, the bounty of nature and the celebrations in the community. Its versatility though lends itself beautifully to capture all kinds of stories. 

Different Tales Unfold
Kalpana Prasad built on the foundation learnt during Catterfly’s masterclasses and used this to capture epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. Young Vidyut used it to portray the battle of Hydapses between Alexander and Porus in school. At the Catterfly Meet, he said he was all excited to use Warli to showcase goddess Durga and all her various forms worshipped during nine days of Navratri.

Warli is also not limited to canvases. Traditionally, women of the Warli tribe painted the motifs on walls and floors.  In its modern avatar, Warli appears on decor items, clothes and furniture. Basically we are limited only by our imagination, as Warli is wonderfully adaptive to different mediums as beautifully showcased by Seema Sinha who painted the stick-life motifs on a T-shirt, a clock and even a calendar.

Basics Matter

All the panelists spoke about the joy of learning under the tutelage of Sanjay Bhau whose emphasis on getting the basics right ensures that learners are free to bring in their creativity to expand it further. A true teacher helps students appreciate how important it is to get the small details right and who better than Hema Minakshi to talk about it. Hema planned to attend Warli classes only for a short while but was surprised to see how much there was to learn. A lot of effort, she said, went in to doing something that on paper sounded really simple - drawing hundreds of dots to paint an Eid scene in Warli style. “Wish I had counted,” she laughed as she recalled her experience. 

It was quite a treat to hear from our wonderful panelists about their Catterfly learning experience, their experiments with Warli and their thoughts on how to take this versatile art form forward.

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