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The story so far

Ongoing graphic art project Saptan Stories is crowdsourcing suggestions for its developing story

Mumbai-based Priyesh Trivedi’s artwork draws from a 1980s’ kitsch aesthetic.
Mumbai-based Priyesh Trivedi’s artwork draws from a 1980s’ kitsch aesthetic.

Imagine a crowdsourced story, a short story. It begins with a simple and evocative premise: a heartbroken individual sitting by a river on a moonlit night. Seven graphic artists respond to this with their unique interpretations: Mumbai-based Priyesh Trivedi, for instance, imbues it with a 1980s’ kitsch aesthetic that we have seen in his popular Adarsh Balak illustrations; Gemma Correll, from the UK, draws a big-eyed cat, like a minimalist cartoon; Saloni Sinha’s take resembles a gothic fairy tale; and Tom Mead’s interpretation looks like a lost page from a black and white sci-fi graphic novel.

Now, back to the writers, who add a line to the existing premise: An apparition emerges from the river. The artists visually interpret this new development, building on their previous images, the recurring motifs and visual themes now more apparent.

UK-based Tom Mead’s work is influenced by dark folk tales, horror films and the pop surrealist art scene.

Consequenceis an old parlour game where you write a line on a piece of paper and pass it to the next person. The British Council’s new online initiative Saptan Stories—launched on 2 August and on till 13 September—has a similar premise. The digital art project has been conceived as part of their programme to mark the UK-India Year of Culture 2017. The graphic artists taking part are from the UK and India and people from across India can send ideas for the story to continue.

Gemma Correll, an illustrator from the UK, tackles gender stereotypes with her cartoons.

“Fine art can sometimes feel elitist and inaccessible. We wanted to make it accessible for all; anyone can write a storyline and have an instrumental effect on how the story develops," says Neil Pymer, interactive creative director of animation company Aardman, which has collaborated with the British Council on the project.

You can either participate by suggesting future plot directions, or simply track the story as it progresses. Each week’s winner is shortlisted by a panel and then chosen through public vote. Once the new storyline is announced every Wednesday, the artists get two days to work on their art—there will be 49 artworks at the end of the project. Trivedi, one of the artists, finds this randomness challenging. “We don’t know what’s about to hit us," he says, “yet there has to be a sense of continuity and recurrence."

To see the story till now, visit www.saptan-stories.britishcoun

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