Drawn to Moths: Art and Enquiry at the Hanifl Centre

December 7, 2015
by admin

P1190679-1-Small-196x300-196x300Margaret Groff has been walking her art students over to the Hanifl Centre the past few weeks to sketch a collection of moths. These sketches will be accurately enlarged, redone and displayed in school. The spectacular moth collection include some rare specimens that have been put together by Peter Smetacek and his team since 2014. Peter is one of India’s leading lepidopterists.

He has been visiting Hanifl Centre regularily to research moths. Luckily for our students, the whole resource of moths is now laid out – their colours and details intact – for observation and study. Students learnt art skills and some interesting facts about moths and butterflies that could well lead up to something new.

Margaret’s class made the transition from art to science – by walking a short distance to Hanifl Centre.
P1190706-9-Small-300x169-300x169“I love to take the students to the Hanifl Centre to draw the moths in the collection. They are always surprised to see that there are hundreds of them, all different, all collected from right here in Mussoorie. Moths are mostly night creatures that we rarely see unless they are buzzing annoyingly around our lights—so they are rather invisible in our daily lives. But seen up close, they are fascinatingly gorgeous—and a great way to practice capturing the subtleties of color and texture in a drawing. And hopefully also, by getting to know these beautiful creatures, they will come to understand more fully the need to preserve their habitat, to care for our environment.”

– Margaret Groff, Head of Art

P1190718-12-Small-300x169-300x169“I learned that moths aren’ as gross as I thought they were. A lot of them are quite beautiful and I could probably look at them for hours”.

– Meghna, Grade 11

“Going to the Hanifl Center was really fun, and it was interesting to see the different moths presented and the variety of colors and textures.”

– Nihal, Grade 11

“I learnt how to differentiate moths and butterflies. I learnt that moths actually have beautiful colors and designs that people usually associate with butterflies.”

– Ameya, Grade

“There are really uncountable variety of amazing moths in India. They are not pale white or only frightening but even better than butterflies.”

– Hah Yeon, Grade 10

Peter Smetacek lives in Bhimtal and runs the Butterfly Research Centre. Read more about his work on Woodstock School´s blog.


– Post written by Lalitha Krishnan –