One look at the Urban Haat in CBD Belapur was enough for Gautam Patole to envision an art festival at the lush, 1.5-acre venue. "It's a place where artistic expression is really possible, and it can accommodate a lot of people," says Patole, organiser of the first Navi Mumbai Art Festival.
The five-day event will see 200 artists participating from all over the country - setting up stalls to exhibit and sell their work, show off their skills through demonstrations, and teach visitors their tricks in several workshops at the venue's amphitheatre. "Since Republic Day and the weekend fall between these dates, we are expecting around 50,000 visitors in all," says artist Rupali Madan, who has also been closely involved with organising the festival.
Is it going to be an annual feature? "Definitely," says Patole. "For next year, we will work on accommodating more artists and smoothing out some organisational issues. We also hope that we can change the mentality of people who feel Navi Mumbai is too inaccessible. We had invited a fashion designer to attend this time, but he refused saying it was too far. Hopefully, that won't happen next time."
Navi Mumbai Art Festival will be held from January 24-28 at Urban Haat, CBD Belapur.
Highlights of the festival
Achyut Palav's calligraphy on umbrellas
Ilyas Amad's work using scrap and nut bolts
Vandana Suri's 40 ft high Kathputli sculpture
Chandrasekhar's live installation using precious stones
16-year-old artist Nikhil Sunke's 7ft installation of Lord Natraj using old bike parts
Special section for artists painting with their mouth or feet
Mehendi art by young girls from Govandi slums