Prafulla Mohanti
Artist, Writer, Poet, Dancer, Architect, Urban Planner

I was born and brought up in the village of Nanpur in Odisha, Eastern India. In my childhood Nanpur was totally isolated. There were no proper roads, only mud paths, no electricity, no gas, no radio or television. There were no clocks or watches and I measured time by looking at the sun. My initiation in to the world of art and learning was in the nursery school held on a villager's verandha. I was three years old. The teacher took my right hand and with a thick clay chalk helped me to draw three perfect circles representing Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswar; the Hindu Trinity. Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the preserver, Maheswae the Destroyer. My life as an artist and writer began.

My village didn't have a school and I walked four miles everyday to attend one in the next village. After matriculation I went to Cuttack to study science at Ravenshaw. I wanted to be a doctor to help my village but couldn't get into the medical school. By chance I saw an advertisement to study architecture in Bombay. I applied without knowing what an architect was. I sent some of my drawings and I was acepted. There was a small scholarship attached to it. That changed my life.

Most of my teachers were trained in Britain and I was told that English Architecture was the best. So after graduating as an Arhitect from Bombay University I came to London for further qualifications and experience. After two years in London I went to the Northern Industrial city of Leeds to study Town Planning. Leeds was grey and colours became important for me. I painted to communicate with myself.

I held my first exhibition at Leeds University and was recognised by the critics as a painter. From my childhood I was interested in dance relating to yoga and meditation. In Leeds School of Art I was able experiment with colour and movement. I taught dancing to a group of art students and we gave dance recitals relating movement to painting.

Got my diploma in Town Planning and came back to London. Worked for the Greater London Council for five years as an Architect Planner and was elected as a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Left the GLC and devoted my time to painting and writing.

With the help of my partner Derek Moore I started some development work in my village of NANPUR. From helpiing the poor and the sick to education and arts- we run a school for small children. Apart from reading and writing the children are taught art, music, dance and drama. they are encouraged to be creative.there are some very bright children.

We have an Art Centre with a few rooms for guests to experience village life. We arrange an Arts Festival every year.We have been trying to revive the dying arts of coastal odisha-Wandering singers, story tellers, puppeteers.Crafts, Herbs, Rural Healing. Village Food Festival. We plan to arrange a literature festival. From February this year we have opened a new school in the memory of Derek Moore to teach computers and english language skills.

We have formed an international group called FRIENDS OF THE VILLAGE NANPUR to carry out our plans.

Exhibition