You might have heard of art aficionados who love collecting artworks, but how often have you heard of someone collecting matchbox covers?
Delhi-based Asif Kureshi is a matchbox covers collector, and has a treasure trove of more than 3000 unique matchboxes for every occasion. “I don’t collect them, I preserve them. I think they are one of the most neglected art mediums. As soon as they are used, they are thrown in the dustbins without a second glance. I go about rescuing them every day from everywhere I see them. Be it streets, roads, highways. For me, they are art, deserving of their own gallery.”
He has even created social media pages to promote these “art pieces”. Since 2012, he has been regularly changing the profile picture for his Facebook page with the matchbox that goes with the news or occasion. He also started an Instagram page ‘matchworks’ to show the world what he has got.
Explaining how he relates activities with his profile picture of a matchbox, Kureshi,32, explains, “There is a matchbox for everything. From Modi winning to Trump becoming the president, I changed the profile picture to match the occasion. In fact, this is what inspired me to start my Instagram page. For known calendar events like women’s day and Holi, I pick my matchboxes in advance and for the ones on the fly like Moonlight winning the Oscars, I simply forage my collection to find something suitable.”
Kureshi gets goose bumps every time he finds a new matchbox, a “passion that started in childhood”. “It all started from the streets of Talaja, Gujarat (my hometown), where we used to play a game called Chaap (meaning mark). After school, we used to rush to the dumping sites to hunt for the most unique ones so that we don’t lose any labels to our opponents. For my master’s module in NID (National Institute of Design), we were asked to document something intimate. All I could think of were matchboxes. Ever since, I haven’t stopped.”
Explaining what he does with the matchbox art, Kureshi says, “I’ll make them eternal via my project. It will encompass everything from art prints to stationery to accessories, each a tribute to these little graphical wonders.” He is also planning a book which details out the never seen process behind matchbox label art.”