2 October 2020

There is nothing more gratifying for a scholar—and a historian—than to be introduced to a brand-new archive that sets her off to explore a completely novel problematic about a man who has been analyzed and studied from almost every angle possible. So, my first expressions of gratitude are to the trustees of Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, and the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Mumbai. In particular, I thank Usha Thakkar, Yogesh Kamdar, and Raksha Mehta. Over the years from when I first learned of this rare and precious archive in March 2016, they, along with Maya Doiphode and Sandhya Mehta, have dedicated themselves to helping me realize my vision for making this collection of images a scholarly resource, in sharing with me their thoughts and ideas, and in being comrades in spirit on this journey. Two members of the museum staff, Jadhav and Vijay, spent considerable amounts of time helping me sort through close to 800 award-winning paintings over a few field seasons, and getting them ready for digitization. My sincere thanks to them for forgoing holidays and staying late and after hours to enable me to complete my work.  I also owe enormous gratitude to M. T. Ajgaonkar and Sajeev Rajan for being so welcoming, and accommodating my every request with such grace and good humor.

The images of the children’s art work presented in the digital album and website were digitized by Puja Soft, Mumbai. I thank its proprietor Madhav Shirvalkar and his staff for the great care and efficiency with which they completed the process in the middle of a raging Mumbai monsoon in July 2018.

Over the years that I have been working on my bigger project on the artistic responses to Gandhi in India, I have been helped immensely by very many collectors and archivists, but especially living artists, some of whose works are presented on this website but many more of which are discussed at some greater length in my monograph, Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience (New Delhi: Roli Books, 2020). My deep gratitude to all of them for continued support of my scholarship, but especially to Aparijithan Adimoolam, Arpana Caur, Jatin Das, Atul Dodiya, Ravikumar Kashi, Gopal Swami Khethanchi, Riyas Komu, Surendran Nair, Debanjan Roy, Gigi Scaria, Parthiv Shah, Gulam Sheikh, and Cop Shiva. Many thanks as well to Bharat Parekh who arranged for me to document the beautiful children’s paintings in the Eternal Gandhi Museum in New Delhi.

I am also in debt to Anurag Bhattarai who carefully helped with cataloguing and preparing the metadata for the paintings, Rohini Thakkar for her help with translating the Marathi and Gujarati inscriptions used by the young artists, and Romita Ray for correcting my (wrong!) translation of a critical Bengali title. Lisa Trivedi was most helpful in putting me in touch with the family of Pranlal Mehta in Ahmedabad for some valuable photographs, as was Yousuf Saeed in tracking down some high res image files.

As always, my good friend Rivka Israel has been the most diligent and intelligent of copyeditors.

Without the cheerful creative and wise assistance of Katie King, my vision for this project would not have been realized, and I am most appreciative of her design skills and acumen that have made these works come alive again in a new virtual context.

This project has been funded by the Anneliese Maier Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. I am very grateful to the Foundation for its generous support over the past five years.

Not least, my immense gratitude to the children of Mumbai’s many schools who responded to the call to come draw and paint on the occasion of Gandhi’s birthday over the past few decades. This digital project is dedicated to them with great affection for their spirit and deep regard for their talent.
Image Credits

Siddhesh, Dandi Yatra, Standard VII, Dr. Shiradkar High School, Mumbai, 2007
Image Courtesy Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya and Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Mumbai

Ruchi, Mahatma Gandhiji, Standard IX, Sane Guruji Vidyalaya, Mumbai, 2012
Image courtesy Mani Bhavan gandhi Sangrahalaya and Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Mumbai