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the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes. marcel proust

the vision  Art. It is a medium with endless possibilities to inspire, create and educate, and in a country with excessive poverty, most are not privy to being exposed to this creative side of learning. Vision Over Sight is an experimental initiative that aims to harness the creativity to educate children and encourage them to think in a broader fashion. The method being used to get the children excited about art is photography, they took part in a number of workshops with both specific and non-specific outcomes that were aimed mainly at opening the children up to expressing themselves freely and learn to question before accepting what was being told to them. Photography was the initial medium of choice, because it has proved be a great tool for exploring oneself and interacting with spaces. I have always been fascinated by the concept of personal space and how people use it. From keeping a room bare to filling it with colourful handicrafts, your personality is literally written on the walls of your space. Unfortunately, for a great many people in Mumbai, space is hard to come by. I spoke with several

organizations before selecting to work with a group of children living in crowded Crawford Market as my audience. I wanted to watch their interaction with the limited space they had and maybe influence it by helping them see new aspects of it or just by adding new dimensions to it with the help of their imagination. From the very beginning, I stressed on the fact that the curriculum would not be pre-determined, but moulded as the children start responding to the initial workshops. I found that this decision was the best one, as I realized that the children were looking forward to more cathartic activities rather than technical lessons on how to use the camera. This is why I began to use the camera not as a tool to capture what is on the outside artistically, but to help them explore what in their surroundings - helps them define who they are. The power of Art in self-expression is very strong, and I hoped to make a difference by way of exposing these children to a different way of looking at things and life. They are the future of the community and they are what matters most to bring about change in the future years to come. By involving the children in artistic activities, a lot of their inner feelings and desires are expressed. The art activities they were involved in gave them a safe space to undergo an emotional catharsis, if they needed it. The activities that actually involved the children to physically transform their own spaces, made it possible for them to express their desires on what they want their community to look like and what they would like to be surrounded by. In doing this the aspirations of the children as well as the truth about their living environment is depicted in the art. By identifying the outcome of the image it is easy to identify what it is that the community needs along with beautifying it and providing fun activities for the children. This also helped to empower the children with confidence, that they have the power to do something larger than themselves.


To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt

The art forms are powerful tools that can assist in identifying what the emotional requirements of the individual are and gives them a time to enjoy a fulfilling experience as they reveal a lot of things they identify with to themselves. This has nothing to do with the ability to draw beautifully or paint landscapes, it is to do with the body and mind - and how art helps connect the two, to perform internal changes and a feeling of being light. As visualised by Anushka Sani, Facilitator of Vision Over Sight

about the toolkit Education today, is seeing a wave of new experiments and concepts. One way of getting more people sensitive to this ‘revolution in learning’, is to share ideas and experiences. This toolkit is an effort, to share with anyone, the activities conducted in the workshops with the children. By creating this toolkit, we are not in anyway suggesting that these activities are holistic or even applicable to all communities. Rather, since they were the outcome of an experience, we wish to share it with anyone who can apply these to their own ideas and create something new. The handbook has been made such that it can be used by anyone, even someone new to this area of work.

This icon marks the activities that require cameras or aim at teaching the children photography. Although most of the activites are photography based, there are some in this book that can be conducted without a camera and are creative workshops that can be done with any group of children. Vision Over Sight chose to work with digital cameras as this cuts the cost of printing and also allows for the children to view their pictures on a screen for improved and quick feedback. As a fascilitator, you would need to have a laptop or computer in order to store, document and view pictures.




visualising dreams


if i had a camera


pin hole cameras


photography 101


  likes and dislikes


house hunting




capturing cultures


  colors of the community


we all live in our bubbles


art therapy


photo albums


community map




resources and inspiration


what This activity requires that the children start thinking creatively. They make windows or frames to click mental images of things. This should be left completely to their imagination.

how This is an important exercise that can be used as an introduction to the entire project as it gives the kids an idea of what they will be learning. Have discussions with the children about the following topics: What is a photograph? Why do people take photographs? What do people take photographs of? How would you click a photograph? On a big chart paper or board list their responses so you can refer to them later for discussion.

framing classes taken one suggested materials A4 colored paper pencils and markers scissors chart paper or board


Ask them what is the shape of a photograph. Give them colored paper and scissors; then ask them to create a shape of what they would like their photographs to be. Ask them to take you on a walk around their community and ask them to pick things they would like to take a mental image of, with their frames. This needs to be followed by an informal discussion, about what mental images each one clicked and why they chose to do so. In the next class ask the children to take these frames and assign a meaning to it. What was this shape? Does it mean anything at all or is it a random shape?

why The purpose of this exercise is to get the children to look at their community, through their own imaginary frames, and get a fresh new perspective. Even if you are not conducting a photography workshop, this is an excellent way to get a group of children to look at their own space with a new excitement through these frames which help them project their vision on to their community.

framing classes taken one suggested materials A4 colored paper pencils and markers scissors chart paper or board

what This activity is to give the children a chance to express themselves by exploring what they give more importance to – fantastic dreams or real ones.


visualising dreams classes taken two suggested materials writing paper / book chart paper pencils and markers glue scissors

how Explain to the children that they can write about anything they like. Dreams about their wishlist, what they want to become in life or even whimsical dreams that they want to share. Keep it as open ended as possible as you do not want to give them a starting point. Ask each child to come up in front and share their dream, if they wish. For the second part of the exercise ask the children to create visuals using found images from newspapers or magazines of people they aspire to be, look upto or even are enamoured by. Let them chose the material over a few days and in the next class ask them to make collages of the same to put up around the class.


visualising dreams classes taken two suggested materials writing paper / book chart paper pencils and markers glue scissors

why All children have dreams. They are rarely given a chance to express these dreams, they are generally too busy studying or working. Some of them may have not even thought about this. This exercise lets them put down these thoughts and share them with each other. This may not seem directly beneficial, but it does help in a more subconscious way. Some children may just enjoy the process of imagining and writing, where as some may actually feel that once this is written, they will work towards it. Goal setting is important - when we know what we want, we tend to work towards it in a more focussed manner. Surrounding yourself with what you aspire to be, helps make it seem closer than it is.

what This is a writing / discussion exercise that must be conducted before giving the children cameras. The children should be asked to write or discuss their ideas, about things that they would like to capture with a camera.

how Children tend to think in black and white, right and wrong. They think that what they write is going to be assessed or graded and maybe even criticized. Emphasize that their responses will not be judged. Each person is unique and should have different perspectives ­– this is what makes photography interesting – the ability to do what you like and click what you want. Encourage them to draw out some of their thoughts as well.

why This exercise is conducted for two reasons. Before the children get the cameras, it gives them a chance to think about what they would do with the medium besides just clicking away randomly. On the other hand it is very important for you, the facilitator as it provides interesting insight to each child and will help create even more exciting workshops for them based on their responses. 15  ART FOR CHANGE  A TOOLKIT 

if i had a camera classes taken one suggested materials writing paper / book pens and markers

what A pinhole camera is a very simple camera with no lens and a single very small aperture. Simply explained, it is a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through this single point and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box. The concept of light writing could not be made more clear with any other activity. Making pin hole cameras are fun, rewarding and the kids learn the basic scientific principle behind photography

how The best way to do this, is to make a pin hole camera yourself first and then simply demonstrate the process to the children in class, so they can make their own. Get the children to make the cameras in groups of two or three so that they can help each other out. Take the cardboard box and open in out flat. Do not cut off anything, as you will be taping the box back up in the end. Identify the two wide sides. Make one small window in the center of side one. Make a larger window in the center of side two. Paint the entire inside of the box black. Explain to the children why this needs to be done. They must understand that black absorbs color while white reflects it. Cut out some tracing paper, enough to cover up the larger window. Place this tracing paper over the window and tape it to the inside of cardboard box. Now take the foil, and repeat the same steps for the smaller window. Take the needle and make a small hole in the foil, right in the centre of the window. Close up the box (black painted side on the inside). Use duct tape to cover up all open crevices. There should be no light entering your box besides the one from the hole in the foil. 17  ART FOR CHANGE  A TOOLKIT 

pinhole cameras classes taken one suggested materials cardboard boxes scissors duct tape gateway paper rulers & pencils foil paper black paint and paint brushes a needle

In order for the pinhole camera to work successfully make sure that you are viewing the image from a darker area than at which it is pointed during the day time. For example, you can make the room dark and open a window – point the camera at the window – The foil side should be facing the window. The light will pass through the hole and create an inverted image of the window onto the tracing paper. If you have an SLR camera, you can open up the camera and show them the little mirror that resides on the inside. Explain to the children that this is how a camera inverts the image after it has been captured by the light.

why When the scientific wonder of things is demonstrated in practice to children not only is it an educational experience, but it also helps them get excited about being able to actually make it themselves.


pinhole cameras classes taken one suggested materials cardboard boxes scissors duct tape gateway paper rulers & pencils foil paper black paint and paint brushes a needle

what Before you give the children cameras you must teach them the few basics of using a camera. With time, you can also address the other areas mentioned here. You may want to take them out of their community for their introductory class. This way they also have new subjects around them which boosts them to experiment with the tool and space. A few things that must be demonstrated and explained — Components of the camera – body, battery and memory card. How to hold the Camera. How to turn the camera on and off. If the camera has different modes, teach them how to use the basic program option. Flash settings - Explain to the children the simple pros and cons of using flash, when to use flash and when it is not necessary.


focus The children need to learn that keeping a steady hand helps click images that are not blurry. They also need to understand that pictures will be blurry in low light situations and that is when they need to use the flash or find a steady object to place the camera on before clicking the picture.

light Light being the most important aspect in digital photography, needs to be broken down for children. They should not be given too much technical knowledge as that is irrelevant in their context. What they must be taught however, is not to point the camera to a light source while clicking a picture. Their subject must never be in the same direction as the light source as this may make the picture look too white. This is best understood with a demonstration given to them in broad daylight.

framing While going through the pictures with the children on the computer show them their own images and crop the image to demonstrate how maybe they could have framed it differently.

getting started classes taken ongoing

what This activity is meant for each child to figure out things they like and dislike, and in this process, learn about with framing and angles.


how Get each child to think about either an object, place, person that they like or dislike. Make this a group activity so that each child has a different subject. Then ask them to explain their likes and dislikes through a story telling session. Demonstrate to them, using one of their subjects how it can be clicked from different angles and distances. Let them now, take their cameras and photograph these things. Once they come back with their pictures, review it with them. Let them see each others pictures and now give them a second round at it. They will definitely come back with better pictures the second time around after having gotten a feel for the camera and their subject.

why These subjects will prove to be excellent insight on the lives of these children and also help identify areas for intervention in the community if you do consistent work there. It is also a good way to get them to start using the camera, creating interest with subjects that are close to their hearts.

likes & dislikes classes taken two



Variation of the earlier activity, created to sustain interest among the children, as they tend to get bored easily. Remember, that with each activity you create, the idea is to go through the pictures with them and have discussions about how they can improve their photographs, why some pictures work visually, some don’t etc.. It is also important to make sure your own aesthetics do not influence the children. These classes are not about becoming brilliant photographers but aimed at expression and exploration.

Ask the children to go to their homes and find things that they want to photograph. It could be an object or an entire space. Get them to view their homes as a ‘place of wonder’.


Explain to them how each home has a character which makes it unique and how they can use this exercise to highlight the special character of their home. Ask them to focus on patterns, portraits, scenarios or any other things that appeal to them visually.

why The children that live in these communities, are not very proud of their homes. They feel that they are too small and not worth photographing. These workshops, are meant to help them break out of these thought patterns and begin to appreciate the little things they do have. This exercise helps the children look at their home, find beauty within it and actually capture it in a photograph. Textures, colors, things and sometimes even clutter can make visually intresting images that they can be proud of.

house hunting classes taken two

what The idea for this activity stemmed from how people use photographs of themselves to create a specific personality they want to portray to others. This activity encourages the children to think about how they would like to portray themselves.

how Explain the concept of a portrait to the children. Tell them that this photograph will be a representation of themselves. How would they like the world to see them? Allow the children to use art objects or props if they like. visually Give them a day to maybe even prepare for the picture, some of them may want to dress up! 27  ART FOR CHANGE  A TOOLKIT 

portraits classes taken one

why This allows the children to try and define their personalities through a photograph. It helps them question what part of their identity they would like to make visible to others.



All communities have that special ingredient which binds them together and gives meaning to their lives. Children view these practices and faiths from a very nascent perspective and this is extremely vital in their development in making them who they are. This activity is all about giving children the opportunity to capture and express what they love about their community and its culture.

While conducting the workshops, you will notice how the children themselves ask for the cameras for these events. Do not set any deliverables for these times Encourage the children to click what they like about these festivals and practices. Give them a few ideas : tell them to capture the colors, the mood, the rituals and the clothing. Tell them to click pictures that also help translate these images to people who know nothing about their culture.


why These workshops are about giving the children a chance to look at what they have going on around them with a more keen eye, making them more observant. These are skills you want to imbibe in them : the ability to explore their own culture, make meaning out of it and even question it, which you as a facilitator can encourage.

capturing cultures classes taken ongoing

an example A relevant example here would be of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai that the children, who took part in the Vision Over Sight workshops, look forward to all year round. It involves getting a clay sculpture of the Ganpati into the home or community for a period of one to eleven days at the end of which the idol is immersed into the sea. This festival has many negative aspects attached to it including ecological damage and alcohol / drug abuse, which were brought up in order for the children to fully understand the festival and question the different facets of it. Along with talking to them about these issues, giving the child the freedom to capture and explore whatever facet of the festival they wish will not only make them realize their talents and strengths as amateur photographers but also give them the eye of the artist. Having the idols in their homes or communities they are able to capture the images at their convenience, with no added pressure. They also broaden their horizons while interacting with the other children, discussing the different experiences of their own festivals / cultural practices.


capturing cultures classes taken ongoing


what This activity involves capturing the different colors that are in and around the community.

colors of the community classes taken

how Ask each child to pick their favorite colored marker. Do not tell them what this is for at first. Let them hold onto these markers.Talk about different colours and how people perceive them to help them understand the emotions behind various hues. Also discuss how colours can shape a photograph and change its meaning completely. Showing them black and white images juxtaposed with colour photographs will help them understand how colour, or the lack thereof, can bring out different aspects of an image.

three suggested materials B & W picture references color picture references prints of photos clicked paint & brushes black markers


Tell the children that they should go around the community and find things in this colour and capture them. Give them a time frame within which they need to get these images Send them out, armed with their cameras, to find these colours. You might consider leaving the cameras with them or giving them one more class to click these pictures.

colors of the community classes taken three

Pick a few pictures each child has clicked and take prints of these. If you are savvy with Photoshop, you can even do something creative like the color cards we made for the children. These act as a motivating factor for them as well. Tangibles are very important when dealing with children.An easy alternative is to print a few pictures and get the children to paint the back of the photograph with the solid color and personalize it as they wish. The idea is to get them to interact with the color in some way. Now let them see all their images and colors together. Lay them out on the floor and get them to hold their pictures up. Discuss the different emotions or feeling that are evoked through these pictures.

why Children are actually very sensitive to color and this is the one thing they can very easily pick up too. This makes learning photography more fun and also helps them understand how colors play a role in their environment and moods.

suggested materials B & W picture references color picture references prints of photos clicked paint & brushes Black markers

what This activity encourages the children to look at their lives from the outside and actually select objects, instances, people and places that would be representative of it.

how Explain the activity to the children. Ask them if they have ever written a story or poem about themselves. Maybe they can share this with the class. Get them to make a list of things they think encompasses their lives. Give them examples of different things : These could be mundane practices, objects they associate with, things they enjoy or like, people that complete their story or even aspirations they may have. Try fixing on a number for this because it makes it easier for the children. Ask them to look at the list they’ve made and figure out how to represent all the items using photographs. Nothing is too silly and explain to them that the photographs need not only be of things that look good in a picture. Once the pictures are ready, ask them to write a caption that explains it. Remind them that their image should tell the story and the caption is merely there to support it. Preferably let them write this themselves as their character will shine through the words they use. Have the kids make a ‘bubble’ out of these images by sticking them together in a long strip that they can fold into a circle. Take the group out into the community and let them pick the people they want to share their bubble with.


we all live in our bubbles classes taken four suggested materials prints of photographs tape scissors

why This was aimed at helping the children tell their story – their hopes, dreams, aspirations and even tiny things about their daily life. Even though they were made to share this with people, it was more for them to re-look at their lives and find meaning in it. By doing this activity, the children have a chance to assign importance to even the small things that make them happy. To realize that each one of them has so much to be grateful for and look forward to. Although the children are not able to articulate these pictures in the captions, it is important that they go through this process of searching for things in their life that they feel defines them.


we all live in our bubbles classes taken four suggested materials prints of photographs tape scissors

what The use of Art as a Therapy is a truly holistic, non-invasive and powerful therapy that helps the individual in identifying the issues that might be significant in their life.


art therapy classes taken one suggested materials large chart papers paints brushes crayons newspaper cups for the paint plates to mix colors easy melodic music music player

how Turn on the music and first get the children to explore their relationship with the paper. Ask them to move or touch the paper in whatever manner they wish. Let them explore different body parts such as nose and elbow touching the paper so that they are out of their comfort zones. The point is for them to identify with the paper and express easily on it. Let them start painting or illustrating whatever comes to their hand, while the music is playing in the background. They can chose to close their eyes if they like. You

can suggest that the brush can move to the music and they should have fun with it and not worry about the outcome. Some children may want to create forms, do not stop them. After sometime, stop the music and ask the child to sit and absorb the image that has been created. Ask them to write down a phrase or words that come to them when they see the image. The group depending on its level of responsiveness can discuss the individual images in pairs or on an individual basis with the phrase in mind.

why While expressing artistically with no illustration to copy or recreate, a child’s inner thoughts and feelings are expressed in the form of abstract shapes and images. These abstract images form a story or a representation of the child’s personality that sometimes when analysed can have a deeper impact. By engaging in the process the child is able to freely express the inner impulses which will create a framework or personality identification for the child. It is a therapeutic activity as one experiences a range of thoughts and feelings while painting. This activity can be modified by giving specific directions to the children before they start painting. For example the children can be asked to illustrate ‘what it is that they want in life’, using the same method.


art therapy classes taken one suggested materials large chart papers paints brushes crayons newspaper cups for the paint plates to mix colors easy melodic music music player

what Creating photo albums at the end of all the workshops so the children have some of the pictures they have clicked as keepsake.


how Open up each child’s folder of pictures and ask them to pick the photos they want printed. You must decide on a maximum number they can chose.

photo albums classes taken one

Get the pictures printed and use the photo albums you generally get free with the pictures. Cover the albums with any bright colored paper. Give the children their pictures and tell them to lay them out on the floor. They are now going to use the pictures to create a story. This story can be of any kind – real or fictitious. You can explain this to them using the example of a movie and how each picture can work as a scene in this movie. Tell them that they can think of a title for their movie or story. They can use this title and decorate their album cover.

why Giving children the freedom to think imaginatively using their own material just pushes them to think of different contexts they can be placed in. This adds a new dimension to the pictures they have taken and these stories can be shared with the people they show the albums to.

suggested materials printed photographs photo albums plain covers for albums

what What is a community?  What do the children consider as part of their community?  This activity helps answer these questions as the children make a map of the locality they live in.


community map classes taken one suggested materials large chart papers crayons markers post its

how Show the children some examples of maps, any map they may be familiar with. A political or physical map of the country perhaps. Ask them to figure out what angle this map has been made from. How do we see it? Encourage them to make their own maps. Do not restrict them to making the map a specific shape or size provided it fits on the paper distributed. Ask them to pretend as though each one of them is a bird, flying over their community. How does the bird see the world?


Let them think of what they would like to add to the map of their community and why they are doing so. It is not necessary to get into technicalities like exact scale or size. Let them pick colors to signify different things and make a key at the end. Ask them to justify the use of these colors too.

community map classes taken one

After the map is made, you can allow the children to tag their own homes on this map. This gives them a sense of belonging to the community instantly. Also, leave this map in the classroom or somewhere in the community where other children too can come and tag their names so that the map populates with time.

why Understanding how to create a map gives the children a whole new ability in terms of thinking from a different perspective in a way that photography or their normal thought process would not provide. The creation of the map also helps them to identify what their community comprises of and what takes up most of the space in relation to what they think is actually important to them as individuals living in the community. Not giving them too much direction you must let them make the make the map truly their own. It provides this sense of belonging. When children create something, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. To be given the power to create, is very empowering.

suggested materials large chart papers crayons markers post its

what These activities have to be tailor made specifically for the community you are working with. On the basis of the interactions you have with the children and the people in the community, you must keep a track of what areas or issues can become opportunities for the children to help their own community.


inter  ventions Log onto the website for more on these interventions and view the following projects under Project Diary: Messages to the Community, Little Boxes and Splash the wall

classes taken varies

how The main idea for the interventions done in the BMC community were so that the children could create a space in their community that they could call theirs, as they did not have one to begin with. Based on this group of children, who identified a feeling of ‘joy’ lacking in the common spaces of the community, we decided to take a portion of that and literally transform it, by painting the wall which would be a permanent fixture and creating a temporary installation for people of the community to see and interact with. Apart from this the children wanted to take a stand on the upkeep of the community. They wanted to voice their concern about the health issues they faced and we converted this into an opportunity to create awareness through participating in fun and exciting activity, spray painting stencils around the space and inviting people to join in.


inter  ventions classes taken varies


inter  ventions classes taken varies

why After spending time with the group of children, you as a facilitator would have already identified spaces that you can intervene in to help the community as a whole. This would depend on your own background and your area of expertise which would then best decide what you can do for the community. Helping the children contribute to their own community empowers them more than anything else, because they gain confidence and begin to realize that they can do things that are larger than themselves and make a difference.



Limited Langauge : Rewriting Design, Responding to feedback culture by Colin Davies and Monica Parrinder

Thinking through Photography, The engine of Visualisation by Patrick Maynard

D.I.Y Design It Yourself by Ellen Lupton The Art of Looking Sideways by Allen Fletcher


other media Ted Videos : Bring on the learning revolution by Sir Ken Robinsion How kids teach themselves by Sugata Mitra Education innovation in slums by Charles Leadbeater Film : Born into Brothels by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski

resources and inspiration these would be very useful to supplement your process. You could also log onto the blog or website for more : www.visionoversight.

contributors This toolkit has been the outcome of research, process and design. The following people have made an invaluable contribution toward translating the content in a more relevant manner, making it what it is.

Geetanjali Sachdev Geetanjali is Dean of the Post Graduate Program at Srishti, School of Art, Design and Technology. Her interests lie in art and design pedagogy with a recent focus on public pedagogies. She has a Master of Arts Degree in Education from Oxford Brookes University at the Westminster Institute of Education, UK.

Kruti Saraiya Kruti started her graphic design career at Srishti, School of Art, Design and Technology and went on to specialize in experimental typography at London College of Printing. She worked for six years at Rabia Gupta Designs in Mumbai where she was involved in designing for premium Indian brands like Good Earth, Sula wines, British Council to name a few. She currently works as a freelance graphic designer and is visiting faculty at Srishti.

Bhaktiveda Dhaul Veda graduated from Trinity College, USA with honors in her self designed major: “Expressive Arts Therapy”. She has shared her expertise in the therapeutic value of movement through her work with underprivileged populations in India and in the United States. She has also founded :praanah: an organisation that promotes the use of expressive therapies including art, drama, music and movement that can help individuals in indentifying their problems and personalities.



This toolkit has been an outcome of research, process and design. Invaluable contibution has been made by the following individuals to make it relevant and easy to use.

w ww.v isio n ove rsi g ht. com This toolkit has been produced after a series of workshops designed and conducted in Mumbai, India by Anushka Sani.


Yuva Pratishthan is the NGO partner for Vision Over Sight. The organisations primary aim is to take care of certain communities with a focus on education and vocational training.

Mr. Yash Goenka, CMD at Conwood Realty who strongly believes in ‘development before redevelopment’ is the official sponsor for the Vision Over Sight activities and collaterals.

This work is licensed under the Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Feel free to share, remix and reuse.

Vision Over Sight - Art for Change  

A toolkit by Anushka Sani

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