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Written and Contributed by

Bookworm Trust
Goa, India



A memory mapping project initiated by BOOKWORM and Scottish artist Liz Kemp, bought together 500 community members between the ages of 5-80 years to document narratives, folklore, the memory and the relationship of communities who live along the river Mandovi in Goa.

What is the project about?

Nhoi: The Goa River Draw, was conceptualized in December 2017 and is initiated by Bookworm and Scottish artist Liz Kemp. The idea was inspired by Big Draw, a UK based organization. The Big Draw is one of the world’s largest drawing festivals to promote visual literacy and art education. The participants are museums, schools, galleries, community centres, or simply people who are enthusiastic about drawing. Bookworm is a library-based organization that works with diverse communities to incite reading joy. We use the medium of books, both text and visual. In ideating around the project, Bookworm was very clear that the drawing alone was not enough, the project if invested and undertaken had to be much more. In continued discussion and dialogue, a scheme appeared. The river selected was the Mandovi for logistical reasons. Template and process were suited to any river or geographical space that would benefit from documenting and memory mapping. A detailed map of the river route that aligned with existing village libraries was drawn out. Librarians were contacted and consent to participate in the project was initiated with the support of the Curator, Central Library, Government of Goa. Liz Kemp trained the Bookworm team on the collaborative drawing process that was the basic framework of the workshops. The project was then piloted with the key thirteen librarians at the Goa State Central Library.

The project aimed to :
– Activate the memory and relationship of communities who live along the river through drawing and conversations.
– Incite this activation through the library space and agency.
– Map these story locations and the river by the community themselves.
– Create a big drawing by joining each communities drawing.
– Document narratives, folklore and other information that gets revealed in formats that could return to the library.
– Document cultural and natural heritage that emerges in the process.
– Refine a workshop template that could be stretched to other themes when working with communities.

By November 2018 – we covered 13 river sites – Sattari, Chorao, Kundaim, Kudchire, Ambedem, Marcel, Old Goa, Collem, Tisk- Usgaon, Khandepar, Savarche, Verem and Volvoi. Each site taught us something different and each River Draw is unique, much like the varied and rich Mhadei/Mandovi river.

In December 2018, we had a chance to do a “Nhoi Preview” which showcased 2 of our Nhoi panels, the process of how these drawings were made and who made these drawings (through a short documentary film, a book, posters and photographs), a live drawing table for visitors to get a feel of the scale of these drawings, maps of the river and even to just create an environment to sit by the river and enjoy it for a while. This was a part of the Serendipity Arts Festival.

In December 2019, all thirteen Nhoi panels were exhibited as part of the Serendipity Arts Festival in the Art Park which was inaugurated by the communities who returned for the first time together to see their panels and perform stories and songs about the river for a large audience.

Project Funded by

The Nhoi project was funded from 2017 – 2019 by Bookworm through its internal funding sources. The displays and exhibitions were supported by Serendipity Arts Festival, New Delhi.

Stakeholders Involved

Department of Art and Culture, Government of Goa.
Central Library, Government of Goa.
Community of Goa.

Village Libraries (9) :
1. Rathang Vachanalaya, Chamerem, Chodan – Madel, Chorao
2. Shree Bhaktodhar Granthalaya, Shree Kshetra Tapobhumi Kundiam
3. Marcel Public Library, Marcel
4. Siddharth Dynanpith village library, Volvoi, Ponda
5. Village Panchayat Library, Curti Khandepar (Opa-Wada)
6. Shri Bhumika Adinath Sauskrut Kala Manch, Tisk, Usgao, Ponda
7. Collem Panchayat Library
8. Sarvachem Kalika Vachan Mandir
9. Assode Gramin Vikas Shikshan Sanstha’s Sandipani Village Library

Schools (4) :
1. Old Goa Educational Institute, Old Goa
2. Pragati High school, Verem
3. J J Rane Govt High School, Kudchire, Bicholim
4. Govt. School Ambedem

Lotus Films.

What is the impact?

In the last few years, the Mandovi-Mhadei River has been afflicted by issues such as the Nationalization of Rivers and diversion of river flow at its source. The purpose of the Nhoi project is to understand if a visual arts-based project like this can become an act of deliberate conscientization; thus impacting the imagination and possible actions around the commons.

The non-partisan nature of the organization, a participatory process, and the involvement of the local librarians enabled this community-based activity to proceed across thirteen communities that live alongside the river (covering approximately 25 km), through their reading/learning spaces.

The process has involved mapping of the various libraries across the Mandovi-Mhadei, collectively meeting with the librarians from these libraries, facilitating individual workshops, documenting river-based stories, talk and sharing towards understanding the relationship with the river, imagining a vision for the river, and mapping the river through community drawings.

Over 500 community members between the ages of 5-80 years participated in this project and shared thoughts and visual memories around the river. The process allowed for adaptations based on individual community needs. One of the major material outcomes of the project included thirteen six-metre-long visuals panels. Big Reveal brought together many of the participating communities to jointly view all their drawings and share their ongoing journey with the river. Community-driven songs, politically charged street plays and reproduced folk songs based on the river were presented, demonstrating engagement with the river theme triggered by Nhoi. 

Images by Bookworm Trust | © all rights reserved

Links to read more:

A link to the Big Reveal

About Bookworm Trust:

Bookworm is a library-based organisation in Goa that has the vision to support reading through libraries. The organisation is based in Mala, Panaji, Goa.