Dr. V. Gokula is a wildlife biologist by profession and a wildlife artist by passion. Artecology had an email based conversation with him about his work in the areas of science and art.
Dr. Gokula started painting and sketching early on. His interest in wildlife and natural sciences sparked off much later. He recollects that he grew more sensitive to nature during early adulthood, mostly for its aesthetic value. His art since then has been an expression of his interest in wildlife and nature.
Later, in the year 1989, he decided to become a wildlife biologist. He pursued post graduation in wildlife biology followed by a Ph.D. in ornithology at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
After a stint in Gujarat studying the Great Indian Bustard, he joined the Department of Zoology at National College, Trichy. He now serves as the Head of the same Department.
During his post graduate years at A.V.C.College, Mayiladuthurai, he began appreciating wildlife, not only for its aesthetic but also its ecological value.
A self taught artist, Dr Gokula drew inspiration from the works of Martin Ridley, Daniel Smith and Carl D’Silva. Thanks to their influence, wildlife and conservation remain the subjects of most of his work.
Dr. Gokula finds he can have an easy balance between his teaching job and his passion for art. He maintains a routine where he sets aside an hour or so everyday to sketch, paint, draw, and to even make cartoons and caricatures. He uses several mediums for his art practice ranging from pencil, ink, water colours to pastels and oil colours. He also dabbles in photography as a medium to experiment with.
All the wildlife he encounters in a day, become his muse for that day. Birds, insects, and mammals are all represented in his art work. Both his paintings and photographs are often a play of light and shadow.
Dr. Gokula firmly believes that wildlife art creates a great conversation on conservation! The visual dimension lends itself to other ecological issues as well, as opposed to a volume of text. He makes use of visual inputs (including his own art work) even during his academic presentations. He has observed that the visual medium invokes a quicker and better response to the ideas of conservation ecology. His artwork has enthused his students, colleagues, and the public.
Talking to Dr. Gokula convinces you that science and art are seamless extensions of one another. Be it spiders, sloth bears, lady’s slipper orchids or spot billed pelicans — these subjects feature both in his art and in his academic work. His story is a reminder that art and science make similar inquiries. Art and science complement each other in marvellous ways, deriving knowledge from the mundane to sublime realms