Drawing/ Painting

The Bornfree Art School teaches all of our children basic sketching and painting as a means to develop confidence and an artistic eye. Many children continue studying painting and sketching in depth. In the first class, children learn points, lines and perspective using drawing pencils. They then progress to drawing parts of the face and experimenting with shading and spacing. Following sketching classes, the children are taught painting and encouraged to complete a work of their own expression. 

30 paintings by Bornfree Children on the topic of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing were exhibited in Hiroshima in 2008. 



With rich experiences of drawing and painting, the children can proceed to sculpting using varied mediums including wood, terracotta, fiber glass, brass and stone. Bornfree constructed a mud-brick kiln on the Bornfree Studio property to fire our own sculptures (as well as bake bread!). Please check out our Blog under the ‘Whats New?’ link to see what new projects Bornfree is presently working on. 

1) A hundred million Crucifixion
2) Triumph of Freedom
3) Panchatantra Panels



Music is the soul of Bornfree- our students are always singing, dancing and playing the drums and other instruments. Bornfree teaches and learns from many different forms of music, including anything from Indian classical to Western music. The Bornfree children can also sing many international songs including songs from Spain, Israel, Japan, the Czech Republic and Cuba.

The Bornfree School produced its first album entitled ‘The Bornfree’ in 2005. Since then we have made three other CD’s: ‘Anthem of the Ants’, ‘Born in Gondwana-Land,’ and ‘Many Hearts; One Soul’. There are plans to record a fifth CD entitled ‘Songs of Freedom’ for which the Bornfree is currently fundraising. Please {Contact Us} if you would like to donate funds for the Bornfree’s music recording program.



The Bornfree Art School has recently created The Bornfree Dance Academy. The Bornfree Dance Academy is dance ensemble which travels to schools to teach dance therapy, contemporary dance, jazz, karalipayatu, hip-hop, and folk dance. The Bornfree Art School uses dance as a therapy for children who are addicted to drugs, emotionally unstable and/or mentally or physically challenged, as it calms the mind, increases mind-body control and helps with concentration. Please {Contact Us} to arrange to have Bornfree run a dance workshop in your school or to enroll students in our Dance Therapy classes.

In 2008, Dr. Mallika Sarabhai, one of the most prominent classical dancers and a social activist of India, worked with us in the Darpana Performing Arts Academy, Ahmedabad. 



Theater is a main component of Bornfree’s Arts program. As a means of building communication skills and creative expression, theater workshops are run where children do mirror exercises, team-building exercises, and trust games etc., as well as the basics of mime.

Bornfree has also put together several mimes which are often included as part of our presentations to schools. Three very powerful mimes include ‘the Kite’, ‘the Peasant’, ‘the Lion and Hunter’. 

Theater Programs by Bornfree:

Spartacus Returns: A child is not free until all children are free. Spartacus tells the story of a slave who threw a stone against the Roman Empire for 6000 slaves 2000 years ago. However, the slavery has been continued till now in this modern society… Spartacus Returns connects this ancient story of slavery to the current situation of child labour and inspires and educates the youth of today. We all need to act. We are all Spartacus.

Shiroi Hana: When an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, it was said that there would be no plants and flowers to grow there for the next 75 years. Yet, after a year, a white flower, Shiroi Hana had come back to a life. India is currently spending Rs. 1000 per annum per head on war, but only Rs.4 per annum per head on education despite the fact that 134 million children are out of schools. Shiroi Hana asks why we are not choosing to spend our resources on human development instead of human destruction?

Shiroi Hana has been performed more than 50 times in schools and colleges in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Cochin since 2008. This theater piece is linked with a peace education workshop to educate young children and adolescents in the war history such as Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam War, the Second World War, Bangladesh War etc. If we wish peace, we have to learn what war is all about.



The Bornfree School runs a photography workshop for schools entitled “Painting with a light”. In this class, students learn about lighting, focusing, framing, shutter speed, aperture, etc. The school children then work with the children of Bornfree to photograph working children. This allows school children to work with former working children and educate themselves about the topic of child labour while also documenting child labour in India. Please {Contact Us} if you would like Bornfree to run this workshop in your school.

The Bornfree children have created around 30,000 photographic images of working and street children in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in 2006 & 2007. You can see these photos as well as see working children writing their own history in the Bornfree School’s documentary film entitled History Expedition.  



Bornfree has created several wonderful films and performances on varied subjects including child labour, slavery, peace, and the impact of nuclear war.

Bornfree Films and Performances:   

i. Che Che: John Devaraj has created the character called Che Che, a crazy goofy man who causes trouble and laughs but is always on the side of working and street children. Che Che  is the first three installments of a comical yet powerful film series depicting the very real plight of child labour in India. Che Che,  in a cinematic style similar to that of Charlie Chaplin’s slapstick critique of Hitler and the Third Reich, uses mime and humor to bring about awareness of the Indian system which hypocritically both prohibits and supports child labor. Bornfree has created three short films in the Che Che series: Mane Bootha, Ragpickers, and Bonda Boy.

ii. Shiroi Hana:  The filmed performance of the Shiroi Hana  theater-dance piece (see above).

iii. History Expedition:  For the making of The History Expedition, we trained our students, themselves former working children, in the art of digital photography. The goal was to give them a medium to document their own previously unrecorded history. In 2006, 15 children of the Bornfree were trained in the digital cameras and traveled by bicycles throughout the 27 districts of Karnataka. They recorded 25000 photographic images of bonded, working and street children and cycled a total of 4000km. These photos were combined with the film footage John Devaraj documented along the journey and were submitted to the Indian Parliament in 2007 as The History Expedition: primary evidence that the laws against child labor are doing little to protect the working children of India. This documentary is a powerful example of working children writing their own history while providing proof of the injustice and cruelty to which they are subject.

iv. Spartacus Returns: The filmed performance of the Spartacus Returns  theater piece (see above).

v. Gondwana Gondwana

vi. Basha the Lionheart

vii. Writing on the Walls

All of these films are available for purchase: Bornfree Store 

Children of the Bornfree write their own scripts, direct, shoot and edit films. They need a great deal of theoretical, technical and financial support for these projects. Please contact us if you would like to support the Bornfree Art School filmmaking either through the donation of your time and skills or through the donation of funds for upcoming projects.


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