Art Can Change Lives: Expressive Arts as Therapy at the Artreach India Festival

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Art can change lives. NGO Artreach India is certainly proving this adage true. They enable children and young people from marginalized communities to find pleasure in the midst of strife, by exploring various forms of art. Founded by Charty Dugdale, it is run by a team of young visionaries.


My partner for all three days of the festival- Anhad Singh

The Artreach Festival

To garner attention and sell the works of their protégées, they recently held an Artreach Festival at the Bikaner House in Central Delhi. The festival took place over 3 days in December 2017 and included many different workshops, plays, musical performances, kissagoi and loads of delicious food from countries like Somalia and Afghanistan.


Art has the ability to make you change your perspective on life

Expressive Arts as Therapy Workshop

I signed up for a 3 day workshop conducted by Avantika Malhautra- a Psychologist, specializing in body movement and art as therapy for clients across age groups and needs.


Avantika Malhautra curates her workshops according to the needs of the people attending

As a parent, I was attracted to its claim of using arts as therapy for people who deal with children. Ironically, I walked out having awakened the child in me. The workshop was attended by people from varied walks of life, each adding their own positive energy to the group. Here’s a roundup of the activities and my thoughts.

Day 1: Exploring Emotions through Colours and Metaphors


Lost in their creations

An in-depth round of introductions was followed by many activities exploring our emotions through painting and music. I enjoyed painting despite my initial apprehensions, not having done it since childhood. I was most impressed with how calm the brush-strokes made me feel.

Day 2: Exploring Self-Image through Collage-Making, Art and Movement


Performing on stage

We explored our bodies through various activities; we drew, wrote and made collages about how our bodies felt to us. We then wrote poems in groups of 3, based on our collective thoughts; and performed them on stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed collage-making, writing and performing- all passions of mine. I have struggled with body image issues all my life, oscillating between being overweight and slim. Through the activity, I realised that people’s comments towards me changed, depending on my weight. Accepting its transient nature, I realized I’m the only one who needs to be comfortable with my body. As I wrote in my group’s poem, “my body is all I have till the end of my days.”

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Partner activities like the game of ‘kikli’ ensured everyone had fun

Day 3: Listening to our Bodies- Exploring Personal Space and Boundaries


Blindfold dance to explore the concept of personal space

We explored our personal spaces through fun partner activities like trust falls, playing with physical boundaries, and lots of dancing.

The group really bonded through the activities of this day. I learnt that I’m comfortable with sharing my personal space. I have a strong inner circle to rely on, but I’m at ease with people coming in to and leaving my life. The entire world is my personal space!

Why I’d Recommend this Workshop

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The workshop led to some major bonding with lovely people. Pictured here with Avantika Malhautra

I would highly recommend this workshop to people who work with children; with people of special needs; parents looking to bond with their child, people suffering mental health issues; people interested in exploring different types of art; or just wanting to try something new. Avantika designs and conducts workshops depending on the group or person. She is based out of Pune but moves around a lot, and even conducts sessions online. This was an extremely enjoyable and insightful experience for me, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!


Contact Artreach India by clicking here.

Contact Avantika Malhautra here: Soul Canvas- Art for Wellness 


Festival Rating: 4.5/5

Workshop Rating: 4.5/5


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