Increasing human population and global consumption have led to severe destruction of nature, through the clearing of forests for building houses and growing food crops. Many plants, like orchids, and other rare species, which thrive as epiphytes on forest trees, have been destroyed along with them. The ground flora has also suffered as a result of habitat destruction. The complex web of life in the Himalaya is fast disappearing.
Through her detailed botanical illustrations, Hemlata Pradhan highlights this loss of Indo-Himalayan orchids and other plants in nature.
In 2003, she initiated the Himalayan Trust of Natural History Art (HTNHA) in Darjeeling where she dreams of combining art, education and conservation at the grassroots. As a part of the Natural History Art course at HTNHA, children are taught how to observe and explore nature through the medium of painting, ceramics, sculpture, textile design and jewellery design, natural history illustration and ecological studies, including dance and music, thus serving to bridge the gap between art and science.
The students attend regular school during the day, then the art school in the evenings, weekends and holidays. The classes give them a new sense of awareness and the tendency to observe more closely, the plants and insects they already knew existed.
Featuring students from Himalayan Institute of Natural History Art:
Sumrita Gotamay, 24, was born and brought up in Kalimpong. She joined the School of Natural History Art from 2011, ever since she was 11 years old. Today, she is doing an internship at the art school so she can further her dream of joining HTNHA as a tutor of Botanical Art and ecological studies while establishing herself as a botanical artist/ illustrator in the near future.
Roshika Sharma, 24, was born in Kalimpong. She completed her higher secondary education from Pranami Balika Vidya Mandir School, Kalimpong, India, following which, she completed her Natural History Art course from HTNHA.
Celestina Lepcha, 24, was born in Kalimpong. She completed her higher secondary education from Pranami Balika Vidya Mandir School, in Kalimpong, following which, she completed her Natural History Art course from HTNHA. She recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in English from Cluny Women’s College, Kalimpong.
Rohini Lakshman, 15, was born and brought up in Bangalore. She goes to the Centre for Learning School ( CFL), Bangalore. In 2022, she joined the School of Natural History Art to complete a certificate course in Botanical Art. Her keen interest in this field has led her to places like the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary in Bangalore to develop her artworks further.
Prathna Regmi, 16, is a student of St. Philomena’s School, Kalimpong. She recently joined the School of Natural History Art in order to further her interest in art.
Kripa Sharma, 16, is a student of St. Philomena’s School, Kalimpong. She recently joined the School of Natural History Art.