Tara Books

Residency brief

Tara Books is an independent publisher of illustrated books for adults and children based in Chennai, in southern India. Founded in 1994, it operates as a group of dedicated writers, designers, and artists who strive to produce rich quality content. Tara Books has worked extensively with different kinds of artists – ranging from indigenous communities in India to those who are from European art traditions.

Tara Books is also known to experiment with various forms of the book, and with production techniques – including their signature handmade silk-screen printed titles. Tara Books offers a residency programme for artists (Arts Residency Programme) and encourages creators and designers from around the world to participate. This is part of the publisher’s contribution to the establishment of a global culture of books and arts. In this context, Tara Books will host a French illustrator or designer to work on their book project in close collaboration with Tara Books, to culminate in a publication.

  • Thematic focus Children’s book / Artist’s Book / Design / Graphic Novel
  • Location Auroville, (Tamil Nadu)
  • Dates September 2023 - March 2024.
  • Length of stay 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the scope of the project

Our Space

Auroville, (Tamil Nadu)

The residency will be on the outskirts of Auroville (within a 1.5 km radius) in an organic farm/design retreat called Cashew Cottage. The farm grows organic food, has a flower garden, and is designed on a sustainability principle with complete waste water recycling, and solar power. It is home to dogs, cows and free-range chickens. There is adequate studio space in the living quarters for day-to-day work. The place is within a cycling distance to Auroville, and there is plenty to discover and explore in the various communities there: yoga, music, art, theatre.

Gita Wolf, the publisher of Tara Books lives in the downstairs cottage from the residency rooms, and will be happy to mentor the resident. She also travels to Chennai regularly, around once in 2 weeks, and the resident can accompany her to Book Building, Tara Books’ space in Chennai. They can also travel on their own there, and even stay for a few days to interact with the other members of the publishing house.

Residency conditions

  • The resident will be provided with on-site accommodation with fields and forest view. It includes a private bathroom, a shared fully-equipped kitchen, and a washing machine. There is a resident caretaker on call for help or emergencies. The resident can enjoy the outdoor terrace, garden, swimming pool, and table tennis space. The place is designed ecologically and aesthetically, and has natural ventilation on all sides, doing away with the need for air-conditioning. The resident will also be provided with a collective workspace.
  • The resident’ travel costs to and from his home address will be covered by the French Institute in India.
  • The resident will receive a fixed stipend of INR. 70 000 to cover his food and living expenses. The resident is expected to cook for himself.
  • The resident should be willing to devote up to 20% of his residency time to participate in lectures, workshops, conferences in local schools/universities, and/or other cultural activities organised by Tara Books, IFI or the Alliance française network. The resident may be asked to give talks, or hold workshops, based on his portfolio, at Book Building, Tara Books’ space in Chennai, or at the bookstore called Books & Things in Kuyilapalayam, the main street through Auroville.
  • A book is expected to come out of the residency on a topic related to the place: ecology, environment, plants, animals, food or sustainability. The resident is expected to complete a draft of the concept during the residency and then complete it in his own time within an agreed deadline. During the entire process, the resident should be willing to work closely with Tara Books and be open to constructive critique.
  • The resident is expected to produce a short written piece about his experience, in a free format, that could be published in France or India and that will testify of his experience of the Residency.

Eligibility criteria

  • The resident must have a working knowledge of English.
  • The resident should have a background in illustration/design.
  • The resident needs to be mobile on a bicycle or a scooter to be able to make their way around.
  • The resident must have one book (minimum) published by a French publishing house.