About Surkhee

Surkhee is an Artreach India Community Arts Project

Surkhee - trash or brick dust - is used as substitute for sand. It also imparts some strength and hydraulicity.

I choose this name because it’s relevant and speaks directly about the surroundings without any ambiguity. This
project connects to my previous project and explicit my bonding with art and people making art in this project. This is
a community art initiative at the brick klin sites, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.
The brick kiln site is at in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. it’s about 40 minute from Varanasi. Varanasi will be
my base, I will be using local bus as mode of transport to travel to Mirzapur and back. Workers families at brick kilns
stay in make-shift houses without proper arrangement of electricity, sanitation, water supply, school and health centre
facilities. These make-shift houses are broken after every working session and those bricks are sold. Working
season is from November - June, workers migrate after end of working seasion. Working conditions are extremely harsh and
workers are exposed to extramarital heat without proper precautions and softy measures. Mortality rates are high.

In these conditions, children are usually have very low level of literacy and no recreation or playing facilities - they are always at the construction site, slowly learning the work that adults are doing, till one day they also start being part of the labour force. There are no toys, books, place to play or activities for them to be engaged with at all.

Objective of this project
This is a year long community engagement. Each session will have ten to twenty participants including mostly children, and a few interested adults. It will be an engaging creative activity.
They will be educated through alternative learning processes. Materials to be used will be collected from the
surroundings like clay, bricks, twigs, stick, stone etc. I will also take in basic art supplies like colours, drawing paper, sketch pens, paints, colour pencils. The workshops will explore new ways for the participants to relate to their surroundings and have a sense of identity and ownership through making their own art works.
They would build toys, art work installation games and small clay houses. In this process of making they will
expand their boundaries of imagination, information, through observation, analysis, selection and deduction. This
practice will increase their boundaries of rational and mental thinking. Through practicing skill they will learn about
their ability, they will learn to control by the process of practicing to concentrate, to be attentive, to be disciplined and
to be focused. This activity will also train them to behave in a group and group learning. This art project will boost
there self confidence and self esteem, sense of honour and satisfaction through all their creative output.
I am intending to pick subjects like identity, home, belonging and shape different perspectives around these through the art making process. For instance, I have tried an activity of making clay house,it was interesting and engaging. Each house was
unique. They did not stop after making house they went on and made doll, toys, and came up with their own stories.
Another perspective of this project is to create a temporary safe space in the midst of brick klins, where they can
bring out their childhood innocence, where they can learn about surroundings, where they can dream.
This kids slowly turns into adult in the klin of life their childhood gets charged. We need to protect their childhood
save it.

About me


Birender Yadav

I was born in Ballia district, Predominantly a rural province of Uttar Pradesh. l was brought up in  Jharkhand. I come from a coal miners family. My father worked as black smith for coal mining industry. I am the first in my family to step out of house and persue formal higher education. I completed my graduation in fine arts from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi in the year 2013 and completed my masters in painting from Delhi College Of Arts Delhi in the year 2015.
My body of works are reflection of my surroundings, my personal experience and memories of growing up in a miners family. Identity,equality,injustice,socio political issues, trigger in me lot of questions and out come is I create subaltern dialogue through art.
My experience of working as an artist I have deep rooted understanding of the life of the brick kiln workers lead from my own up bringing in Jharkhand.l can easily mix with them as friends. My own art work is also constantly inspired by experience with
labourers. I think this project will give me required support to have a sustained engagement with the children and adults and share some of my artistic skills with them, to create something in the world they can call their own.

Contact: bireny89@gmail.com / +91 7838648468

Artreach India

Artreach India works with Artists to transform the lives of children, young people and women from marginalised communities in India. 

As part of our Community Art Projects, we offer year-long community arts grants to artists and collectives working in rural or peri-urban spaces across India.  We are especially interested in supporting ongoing projects that work with displaced and disadvantaged communities and address socio-economic inequalities.

Contact: artreachindia@gmail.com // Website: http://www.artreachindia.org/