Art and SDG Blog

Art and the SDGs is a public engagement project between artisans from the Janakpur Women’s Development Centre (a center of Mithila art and culture in the southern plains of Nepal), researchers at UCL Institute for Global Health, and the United Nations in Nepal. The project seeks to promote dialogue between students and artisans about local meanings of the Sustainable Development Goals. We explain our project through art and photos.

Artisans have been working with the UN in Nepal to produce the painted images below which represent mithila interpretations of each of the 17 SDGs. These are currently displayed in the UN in Nepal, but have been also exhibited in the UN in New York.

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Artisans chose 4 SDGs that they wanted to discuss with children from a local school – Good Health and Wellbeing, Quality Education, Gender Equality, and Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Four artisans were given a bit more training so that they were prepared to discuss the SDGs with children at a local school. We planned in detail how the interaction between artisans and school children would be carried out.

Other artisans prepared sketches of the four chosen SDGs, adding to their previous paintings. The new paintings are more detailed and include non-binary people, sharing the old books with younger friends/siblings, men doing household chores, menstruation, and COVID 19 (picture 11).

After taking consent from children and their carers or parents, four artisans and Dollie went to a government school on the  5th of September and spoke to 12 students from classes 8, 9 and 10. They were from 13 to 16 years old.

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We discussed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals one by one and played a quiz.

Then artisans discussed their interpretations of the four chosen SDGs and invited students to talk in groups about these paintings and their ideas

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Students explaining what they have understood in the session with the help of our UN SDG painting to their peers.

At the end we discussed what images they would like on their school wall which represented the SDGs. They showed us potential places for the painting which we then discussed with the headmaster. 

Finally taking a group picture after successfully completing the student interaction with JWDC artisans on SDGs.lastly, we distributed snacks to everyone and parted.

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Artisans went to the school for 10 days and painted the wall.

Artisans also prepared for the ‘launch’ of the painting by preparing games related to the four SDGs chosen. This game is about encouraging gender equality. Special thanks to British Council for providing us gender equality snake and ladder game board.

All the artists went to the school to play games related to the SDGs and celebrate the completion of the wall painting.

Artisans discussed the painting with the students.

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We played a game where students are supposed to knock over the unhealthy snacks, cigarettes, and other items which can be bad for your health.

Students threw bean bags with healthy foods on them into the mouths of painted boards of unhealthy people.  The objective of this game is to teach about healthy and unhealthy foods.

We asked artisans what they thought of the interactions with the students and one of our senior artisans Pano Das said “Every time I interact with students, I always get to learn new things from them”. Similarly, Madhumala Ji said, “some students are very curious and they have a lot of questions to ask, replying their queries is very important”

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We asked students to mark on an emoji paper with stamps what they thought about the games and the wall. Most students liked both the wall and the games. We also asked some students, and one of them said “I learned about the right age of marriage and good eating habits”. Out of 100% participation, 60% of them were girls and 40% of them were boys. 96 students were excited, 21 were very happy, 10 were happy, 2 were sad and 7 were very sad to be part of the mela.

Everyone really enjoyed the games and the wall painting is a great addition to the school

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