On a Saturday morning in November 2014, I participated in a special, curated walk — perhaps the first of its kind — on street art. Organised by the St+art India Foundation, the walk was to showcase the culmination of almost three weeks of work done by 20 renowned artists from India and abroad in and around Bandra in Mumbai.
I had closely followed the progress of the various artworks on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. And each time an artwork was “unveiled”, the itch to go and see them for myself only intensified. So when the announcement of a curated and guided street art walk popped up on my Facebook feed, I immediately signed up for it. But then, the excitement gave way to scepticism.
Let me elaborate. I love street art — it’s vibrancy, its uniqueness, its colourfulness, and the fact that they don’t follow any set rules. But most of all I love how all the street art I have seen have been serendipitous and delightful finds. Something, I thought that a curated walk would not be able to give.
Still, the lure of seeing the St+Art in Bandra prevailed over my scepticism and I made it for the walk, as did 10 other people.
To my surprise, autorickshaws had been to take us to the different locations of the artworks from the starting point. which was Pali Village. However, when the ‘walk’ ended at St. Jude Bakery on Waroda Road, I was glad that we had the rickshaws for we would never have been able to cover all the locations on foot in the specified time.
Our walk began with a brief introduction to the St+art India Foundation, a non-profit organisation with an aim to make Indian streets more interactive through the medium of urban art festivals across the country.
The 2014 edition of St+Art Mumbai, held from 7-30th November, was perhaps the first time that such a concerted effort was made in the city towards getting artists from all over for an initiative such as this.
Our guide used the term “invasion of street art” to describe the St+art Mumbai festival, which I thought was quite apt for Bandra, considering the amount of varied street art that it has. 🙂
Over the next three hours or so, and as we moved from one location to another, we were introduced to not just the works of art, but also the artists behind them and their signature styles: Yantr’s (India) industrial and a futuristic work; Tona’s (Germany) stencil work; Bond’s (Germany) lettering; Seikon’s (Poland) geometrical designs; Amitabh Kumar’s (India) swirling lines in black and white; Anpu’s (India) fascination for cats; Dome’s (Germany) surrealistic style… and so on.
The other artists whose works we saw that day were Tika Thek (Switzerland), InkbrushNme (India), Daan Botlek (The Netherlands), Ano (Taiwan), Akacorleone (Portugal), Gomez (Italy) and Tofu (Germany). Their work ranged from the cute to the whimsical to the abstract to the surreal to the bold.
Presenting a slide show of 30 St+art invasion in Bandra. You can click on any of the pictures to start the slide show, but I recommend that you start with the first picture
I loved the curated and guided walk organised by the St+Art Indian Foundation that day. I don’t know when my scepticism vanished and then changed to respect and admiration.
Was it when I saw the scale and detail of the work?
Or was it when I heard about the procedures involved in getting permission for painting on a particular surface?
Or was it when I heard how the artists involved the community around the site in deciding what kind of art they wanted?
Or was it when I spoke to an elderly resident who said how proud she was to have given space for a St+art mural on an external wall of her house?
Or was it the realisation that I could never have seen all of this or got the insights without this curated walk?
Whatever the reason, I was very glad that I put all my doubts aside and went for the curated walk. If I had any grouse, then it was the fact that the street art was concentrated in Bandra. I really hope that this “invasion” happens in other suburbs of Mumbai as well, especially its eastern suburbs. Will the 2015 edition of St+art Mumbai see his happening?
I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂
PS: Which is your favourite work of art from the ones I have shared in the slide show?