Divya Bhatia

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Article

Taking a deeper journey

The philosophy of acceptance

Divya Bhatia is a versatile creative professional, with skills and experience in many arts disciplines. He lives and works in Mumbai as an Artistic Consultant and Theatre Producer. From 1983, he lived abroad for five years, studying in the UK and Canada. At present he is Joint Festival Director at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. From 2001 to 2003 he has been conceptual artist and consultant to The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow, guiding the transformation of a derelict industrial site into a visionary new landmark.
Divya Bhatia is an Artistic Consultant and Theatre Producer of Indian origin and nationality. Born in 1966, he lives and works in Mumbai. He was educated outside India, winning a scholarship at the age of 16 to the prestigious international school, the United World College of the Atlantic in South Wales, UK. Following the International Baccalaureate, he spent three years in Canada, again on a full scholarship, studying Political Science at Trent University, Ontario where he graduated in 1988 with a B.Sc.

Bhatia is a multi-talented creative professional. He has a varied and exciting background across a range of artistic disciplines in the performing arts, visual arts, film and internet. He works internationally and has a strong commitment to environmental issues.

Divya Bhatia was commissioned by NVA in Scotland as conceptual artist and consultant for The Hidden Gardens project. This visionary new landmark for Scotland, dedicated to peace, has transformed a derelict 5,000 sq. m. industrial site in the heart of South Glasgow into one of Scotland’s first sanctuary gardens. Since the project began in 2001 up to its launch in June 2003, Bhatia has taken a unique role, offering a spiritual and philosophical overview for the project and serving as mentor to the other artists. He has guided the overall quality and atmosphere of the gardens from an ecological and spiritual perspective.

The Hidden Gardens aim to be a place of inspiration, increasing understanding and commitment to a better Scotland, free of intolerance and bigotry. Bhatia outlines his approach:

‘The irregularity of The Hidden Gardens’ external shape is the most attractive feature, a metaphor for the seeming “roughness” or unpredictability of all nature, human or otherwise. Its opening up to humanity would be the best thing that could happen to it.

At the heart of cultural diversity lies the philosophy of acceptance – of each other and of taking pleasure in the “differences” that we are. With the experience that a multi-hued body of people have more to offer and gain, more to learn and share and deeper journeys to take – all this with a sense of shared responsibility towards fellow beings, nature and themselves.

At a time when the struggle for acceptance of “identity and difference” seems to traverse a linear course of conflict and mayhem, it seems to me imperative that we move beyond a “cosmetic tolerance” of each other and confidently engage in a celebration of the various cultural “selves” that we are.’

Divya Bhatia is currently on contract as Joint Festival Director for Mumbai’s renowned Prithvi Theatre, commissioned to develop a major theatre festival in 2003. He first worked for Prithvi Theatre in 1996 and has worked with other prominent Mumbai performing arts organisations, NCPA and Kala Ghoda Festival. He is a theatre actor and director with several performances and productions to his name. He has attended numerous theatre workshops with national and international directors including Peter Brook, Naseeruddin Shah, Footsbarn Theatre, Meta Theatre and Irshad Panjatan. Bhatia has also acted in TV commercials and student diploma films.

Divya Bhatia’s theatre work incorporates a strong commitment to the education field where he is in demand as a facilitator of site specific performance, performance appreciation and self awareness workshops. This work is primarily focused on school teachers, young people and the corporate sector.

He works with teachers and young people in India and runs the annual summer school workshops for Prithvi Theatre ‘Summertime at Prithvi’ on ‘self’, theatre and site specific performance with 12-16 year olds. Bhatia has facilitated workshops on communication, empowerment, creativity and voice for large groups of school teachers in Rajkot, Gujarat. In 2001 he was a Special Invitee to co-facilitate a workshop-performance in South Africa. This culminated in the Freedom Day celebrations on Robben Island.

In the private sector, he has run communications and performance workshops with business executives. His proposal for an unusual communication/creativity/motivation workshop for a leading industrial company has recently been accepted. At Prithvi Theatre he is developing an Arts and Business Forum and he was a Special Invitee at London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) in 2002 for a workshop on enquiry into the nature of communication, learning and evidence.

Divya Bhatia is also a Web specialist, with a focus on information and communication design. He has been a judge for Mumbai’s ABBY advertising and internet awards.

In the early 1990s, Bhatia freelanced as Assistant Director on four documentaries, shooting on both film and video. He has also worked on two television projects as Executive Producer and was Vice President Production/Programming at Aurovision, a satellite TV channel.

A further strand to Divya Bhatia´s multi-faceted approach is his commitment to meditation, yoga and the healing arts. He is a certified Reiki (Japanese/Tibetan healing method) practitioner in Rigorous Usui Reiki (3rd degree) and Karuna Reiki (2nd degree).

Since his schooldays at the United World College of the Atlantic where he qualified as a mountain rescue coastguard, Divya Bhatia has had a love of the outdoors. While studying in Canada he led canoe trips through the wilderness of northern Ontario. Back in India, he has been an active participant and core committee member of Vaara ‘Vision Acres’ project since 1995. This 65 acre tract of land some two hours from Mumbai is managed using natural farming techniques. The group aims to revive native species of flora and regenerate the forest environment.
Author: Judith Staines

Bio

Divya Bhatia is an Artistic Consultant and Theatre Producer of Indian origin and nationality. Born in 1966, he lives and works in Mumbai. From 1983, he lived abroad for five years, educated in the UK at the United World College of the Atlantic in South Wales and in Canada where he studied Political Science at Trent University, Ontario.

Bhatia has a diverse and unusual range of experience and interests. He has worked across artistic disciplines in the performing arts, visual arts, film and internet. At present he is Joint Festival Director at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai, developing a major theatre festival in 2003. From 2001 to 2003 he has been conceptual artist and consultant to The Hidden Gardens project in Glasgow, Scotland, guiding the transformation of a derelict industrial site into a visionary new landmark for Scotland, dedicated to peace.

Works

ENVIRONMENTAL WORK

Object,
2003
Since 1995: Core Committee Member and active participant: Vaara ´Vision Acres´ project, Maharashtra, India. A social reforesting and natural farming project spread over 65 acres, dedicated to regenerating a forest tract and reviving native species of flora. 1985-89 Canoeist and canoeing instructor, Ontario, Canada 1983-85 Certified mountain rescue coastguard, HM Coastguard Service, UK

MEDIA WORK

Production / Performance,
2003
Since 2001: Independent web specialist and Internet consultant 1996-2002: Vice President - Operations, Puretech Internet Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, Creative head and chief information officer for both local and overseas software assignments 1995 Vice President Production/Programming at Aurovision, satellite TV channel 1990-94 Assistant/ Director post-production with filmmakers (various contracts) Dev Benegal, Anand Patwardhan, Chandita Mukherjee (16mm, 35mm and video)

THEATRE WORK

Production / Performance,
2003
Since 1996: Joint Festival Director, Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. Currently on contract to curate, market and execute a major theatre festival in November 2003. 1999-2001 Theatre Consultant and Programme Officer, National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai Since 1999: Theatre Programme Consultant, Kala Ghoda Festival, Mumbai Since 1989: Theatre actor and director. performed as a member of ´Motley´ under direction of Naseeruddin Shah. Theatre performances include ´Caine Mutiny Court Martial´ (Wouk), ´The Misunderstanding´ (Camus), ´Hamlet´ (Shakespeare), and ´One for the Road´ (Albee). Works as a theatre director include ´Ballad of the Sad Cafe´ (Albee) and ´Footfalls´ (Beckett). Since 1992: Has attended numerous theatre workshops including Peter Brook, Nasseeruddin Shah, Footsbarn Theatre, Meta Theatre, Irshad Panjatan & British Council. Has also acted for a number of TV commercials and student diploma films.

The Hidden Gardens

Object,
2001
2001-03 Freelance consultant as conceptual artist to NVA, Glasgow, Scotland, UK for ´The Hidden Gardens´ project, an unusual public garden in Glasgow. Function includes giving an overall spirtual/philosophical perspective to the project and serving as mentor to the other artists.

Merits

SCHOLARSHIPS
1985-88 Trent University, Ontario, Canada, 3-year full scholarship for B.Sc. studies
1983-85 United World College of the Atlantic, Wales, UK, 2-year full scholarship

FACILITATION/WORKSHOPS
2003, 2002 & 2001 Trainer: workshops on ´self/theatre´ and site specific performances for young people (12-16 years) at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai
2002 Trainer: empowerment/communication, voice and creativity workshops for over 250 teachers, Rajkot, Gujarat, India
2002 Special Invitee, London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) workshop on ´enquiry into the nature of communication, learning and evidence´
2002 Core co-ordinator/trainer/facilitator: Prithvi Pune Project - The Phakama Way, 3-week intensive arts education workshop for 50 young people (13-22 years), and 25 trainee facilitators from across India.
2001 Special Invitee and co-facilitator for workshop-performance on Robben Island, South Africa to celebrate Freedom Day
2001 Invited to attend Edinburgh Festival as guest of British Council Division, India and Visiting Arts UK to participate in workshop on management of performing arts.

MISCELLANEOUS
Since 2000: Judge for ABBY Awards (Advertising Club of Mumbai Awards) for Online Branding, Advertising and Internet Websites.

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

The Hidden Gardens

(01 January 01 - 20 June 03)

Www

NVA - Hidden Gardens Project

Hidden Gardens, Glasgow, opening 2003

Hidden Gardens (artists)

List of artists and artworks created in Glasgow gardens. Information may move to official NVA site.

Hidden Gardens (open weekend)

Press release and background information to Hidden Gardens project, November 2002. Information may move to official NVA site.

Prithvi Theatre

Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai - programme and Festival