Shraddha Shrestha is an award-winning Nepalese illustrator, designer and street artist. Her art "Yeti meets doko" is part of our life-changing Artist Series collection to support the Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF).
Shraddha shares the inspiration behind her latest design and how art can be a therapeutic form of expression for children in Nepal.
Tell us a bit more about some of the elements in your designs.
My designs are about the culture and geography of Nepal. It is promoting the idea of travelling to Nepal in a local way.
The shirt I'm wearing is an illustrative composition inspired by the North and South Nepal. It is an image of a yeti carrying a doko (a basket made from cane) filled with clouds climbing the mountains. On the left hand side is the Rhododendron flowers found in the hilly part of Nepal, and on the right hand side is a mandala in place of the sun.
The yeti is a mythical creature imagined to be found in the Himalayas, and a doko is like a backpack for many Nepalese who live in the mountains. They carry their luggage or water pots for cattle in a doko and walk many miles uphill and downhill. Mountains and hills are the normal routes for any Nepalese from the central and north region. Children cross over many hills just to go to the school. People sometimes walk miles just to reach to the closest water source.
You won the 2015 Australian Himalayan Foundation Art Award. How has this helped your career?
The Australian Himalayan Foundation Art Award made it possible for me to have my very first own show and to exhibit in a gallery like the Siddhartha Art Gallery.
With the help of the award, I had a chance to work more freely and to focus on my work. And I now have a good relationship which is helping to promote Nepali artists and contributing in the goodwill of the local art scene.
Also, through the AHF I could collaborate with Kathmandu and bring my own design to the international market and help to spread Nepalese art and culture further among global consumers.
The Australian Himalayan Foundation provides Art Therapy Camps in villages in Solukhumbu to help with recovery following the Nepal earthquakes. What is your experience with art as a form of therapy?
I do not have much experience about art therapy but I volunteered in a local community primary school in Nepal post-earthquake. Since a lot of children were affected by the big tremor psychologically, schools did not want to start course work immediately after reopening.
I volunteered as an art and craft teacher for students ages 6-8 and I engaged them in different projects like drawing and origami. It was a great experience to work with the young students as they were very happy to join the school and be with their friends and teachers again after more than a month closure. And they were very excited and eager to participate in a creative workshop as it was a welcoming change after the chaotic times.
What opportunities are there for artists in Nepal?
I think there are a lot of opportunities for artists in Nepal. Since the local contemporary art scene is not very old, there are many mediums, materials, histories and places still to be explored.
People are still sceptical about taking up art as their career, so there are not many artists who practice art full-time. This in my view creates a big gap in the development process of a creative practice because of the insufficient manpower. So there are many things that need to be done to tighten this gap and give Nepal a presence in the global art scene.
How does Nepal fit into the world of global travellers and adventure seekers?
Nepal is a small country, but even though it is small it has the most varied landscape — from the snow-capped mountains in the north to the flat green Terai plain in the south. It is also home to a vast culture of people and language.
It has a very old religious and cultural heritage which can take a traveller back in time. Travellers and adventure seekers come to Nepal to experience high-altitude trekking, water sports, jungle safari and more, along with soaking in the medieval history of the country.
We’re excited to bring Shraddha’s art to our range. For every t-shirt sold, we’ll contribute $5 to the Australian Himalayan Foundation to support their vital work like their annual art awards and art therapy camps.
More about the AHF Art Therapy Camps:
As part of the AHF's response to the devastating earthquakes in 2015, a group of previous AHF Art Award recipients travelled to the SoluKhumbu region of Nepal to use art therapy to provide post-earthquake trauma counselling.
A five-day post-trauma art therapy workshop was held for more than 300 students from Mahendra Jyoti Higher Secondary School. It provided a safe learning space for the children where they were able to participate in art as a means of expressing their responses to the earthquake experience.
Following the success of the inaugural Art Therapy Workshop, the AHF plans to hold further workshops to continue to provide counselling to children and families suffering from the ongoing effects of the earthquakes.
This project was made possible due to a collaboration between AHF and its in-country partner REED Nepal.