Taru, a qualified architect, came to England from India in 1978 to join her husband. She practiced in London until her first son was born, and then as a part time librarian in Richmond until after 1984 when her second son, Rohan, turned two. Over the following 15 years she suffered various health problems, fighting off breast cancer in the late 1980s and early 2000s.
At the hospital, for treatment for breast cancer, they recommended art and somehow she found us, ‘Building Community through Arts’ (BCA), running a series of workshops at St. Luke’s in the Avenue, Kew. Joining the team she worked in a number of BCA projects, bringing together volunteers from schools and businesses to build community and release the creativity of all involved, giving participants’ lives and work renewed inspiration and meaning. Amongst a variety of projects, Hilda Flint and Taru worked together on a pilot project for elderly people, some with dementia, at the Amyand Centre in Twickenham.
Taru worked hard to develop with us the BCA approach or ‘the BCA Way’ as she called it. She loved the sayings which guided us: especially the artist Frederick Franck’s saying: ‘for all that is human we have in common‘ and Picasso’s observation: ‘Every child is an artist; the problem is how to remain one when we grow up.‘ As a trained architect, Taru knew with Coomeraswamy, that ‘Artists are not special kinds of people – every person is a special kind of artist.’
The BCA team she joined was inter-disciplinary and very diverse in age, gender, race, religion, background and professional discipline. Together we learned the truth of saying ‘for all that is human we have in common and from all that divides us we may learn and grow!‘ In our regular team meetings we shared what was happening in our lives and what we were learning. We became something of a family to each other.
Taru partnered her second son Rohan in successfully running the Twice Times Nursery School in Fulham, where her love of education, music and art were given expression and she worked tirelessly with other people’s children in the Nursery School. Education, in its widest sense of drawing people out, was always at the heart of Taru’s vision. Highly educated herself, she wanted to share the possibilities with others, working always to include.
With Tagore she felt:
“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with existence.”
With all her work in recent years in the school with Rohan, she still found time to stay involved with the BCA team, who were busy documenting all the work carried out since 1993, and preparing it for presentation on the web so that it can ripple out into the community. In 2015 Taru and Kitty were planning a new small pilot group in Kew, working with the Chair of Kew Studio, Ann Kirkbride, a retired GP, very interested in the healing power of the arts. We were exploring the idea of art as a spiritual practice…Sadly, Taru died in March.
By putting the BCA resources we have together gathered over the years on the web, we hope to inspire, encourage and enable others. If you would like to see what she was involved in go to: www.kewstudio.org/explore-creativity or just google: Kew Studio exploring creativity.
There you will find ways to work by yourself, to work with friends and family, with your community and in your workplace. We had been looking forward to celebrating with Taru when our work was completely on the web.
The Indian poet and Nobel prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, to whose thinking Taru introduced us, and with whom her family were closely connected, was very clear. He said:
– What is art? It is the response of man’s creative soul to the call of the Real.
– In Art, man reveals himself and not his objects.
Here with the BCA team Taru found something new to focus on…she seemed to be following Tagore when he said:
– I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door \ or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.
– Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.
From the moment we met at her first BCA workshop, she was an inspiration to us. She seemed to have become a shining example of Tagore’s prayer:
– Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.
She dived into her experiences, sharing with us her hopes and fears as she encountered illness, love and loss. She knew, with Tagore, that:
– You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. You have to dive in.
– We live in the world when we love it.
– Life is given to us. We earn it by giving it.
– I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
Taru’s own family were so precious to her, and through hearing of her love and admiration for them, we came to feel we knew them too. Taru accompanied them through all their trials and triumphs, learning from them all the time… She lived and knew only too well the worth of Tagore’s wisdom:
– Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.
– Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom.
– Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.
– Facts are many, but the truth is one.
– Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.
– If you shut the door to all errors, truth will be shut out.