Nilina Deb Lal

Arts Education

Grant Period: Over one year

Architect Nilina did her post-graduation course on conservation of historic buildings in 2001-2002 at York University. Nilina has a passion to change the appreciation and comprehension of history, tradition and culture in our immediate environment, school curriculum, and bring it alive through workshops. Her education in architecture allowed her to put her expertise into action to bring about such change. 

Nilina conducted a series of workshops with the objective of connecting middle-school children with the larger context of Kolkata’s built heritage along the River Hoogly.

She had a potentially vast canvas with the heritage along the Hoogly and she was careful to develop components that were neither too simplified nor too dense for middle-school children. The central components of the workshop were field visits comprising a launch ride down the River Hoogly in order to experience the richness of the settlements along the river banks, bus rides to the northern and western suburbs of Kolkata to learn about European settlements, and sessions at the dock areas and Fort William to understand the interface between the city of Kolkata and the river.

Nilina also organised orientation sessions with the programme coordinators, teachers and students in the schools, to prepare them for the trips.

For Nilina, the experience had been immensely educative in terms of exploring built form through a larger cultural and environmental history of the area as well as the practical aspects of offering such a programme to the schools.

The workshops were a success as a student from Modern High School for Girls remarked, “The days of the workshop were a few of the better days of my school life. For the first time, I went on a launch ride down the Hoogly River and learnt so much about the buildings along the banks. Most of us did not have any idea about our heritage before these visits”.