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Pradip Krishen: Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Awardee 2017!


Born in 1949. Lives and works in New Delhi and Rajasthan.

Pradip Krishen is an Indian filmmaker and environmentalist. He has directed three feature films, Massey Sahib in 1985, In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones in 1989 and Electric Moon for Channel 4, UK in 1991. His films have won significant Indian and international awards, and In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones acquired cult status in the years after it was made. He gave up filmmaking in 1993, and started to teach himself field botany.

Krishen began by spending time in the subtropical jungles of Pachmarhi in the Satpura Hills of Madhya Pradesh. He started to identify and photograph Delhi’s trees from 1998, extensively exploring the city’s gardens and the semi-wilderness at the edges of the city. In the course of his work, Krishen led numerous public Tree Walks on Sunday mornings and gradually developed a deep interest in ecological gardening. Krishen has created ‘native plant’ gardens in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Garhwal, and most notably, a major ecological Project (Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park) on a volcanic outcrop near Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Since 2015, he has been Project Director of the gardens at the Calico Museum in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and most recently, leads a team of horticulturists and landscape architects to re-wild and restore an extensive set of sand dunes in Jaipur city, Rajasthan. Krishen’s first book Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley/Penguin in 2006, met with popular and critical acclaim, and became a best-seller in India. Krishen’s followed this with a more ambitious second book, Jungle Trees of Central India, (Penguin India), which was released in 2014.

Krishen has spent 20 years photographing and writing about trees, and the more he has learned about how trees ‘work’ in dry, monsoon forests, the more he has realised that in India we have turned our backs on – or failed to notice – some of the most beautiful and ecologically sustainable ‘events’ in nature. For example, Krishen laments the fact that landscape architects and horticulturists working in India do not appreciate the marvellous appositeness and synchronicity of natural cyclical events such as the spectacle of new leaf in a dry, deciduous jungle. During his Residency at Bellagio, Krishen intends to create a teaching module that explores ways of changing the way one looks at and chooses to plant trees in India cities.