Five-year-old Riyansh Joglekar spent Sunday afternoon running up and down Rampart Row, from one brightly coloured art installation to the next, trying to pick his favourite one. He finally settled on Sumeet Patil’s Jana Gana Mana, made up of 20 statues representing India’s diversity — a Kutchhi woman in a brightly coloured chaniya choli, and a Kashmiri woman in an intricately woven salwar kameez.
“We both love this installation,” laughed his mother Radha, 35. “It is so colourful and arouses your patriotism,” said the fashion designer from Marine Drive.
Once again, the art installations at the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival proved to be a huge draw — more so than last year — since this year’s theme of Sparsh, or Touch, invites visitors to step up and engage.
Through the weekend, hordes gathered around the 50 interactive installations, climbing on to some, walking through others, taking turns behind the camera and posing for selfies and group photos. Some pouted; others sat in meditative poses.
“Everywhere else, you are told not to touch art works, but here you are encouraged to go touch them and that is great fun,” said Riddhi Malde, 32, a make-up artist from Chunabhatti.
At the Cycling Tree, an installation by the TAD collective, people queued to ride the two cycles, generating energy to light up the fairy lights draped over the rest of the installation.
“This is an interesting concept,” said Nayan Jain, 30, a real-estate developer from Belapur. “It tells people to be environment-friendly in a fun way.”
A few paces away, two volunteers for artist Papri Bose struggled to keep up with the flood of people scribbling out chits for the wish tree installation, titled Seven Islands in the Sea of Hope, which will be installed at the airport’s T2 later this year.
“I wished for a clean, litter-free city,” said Dhaval Goradia, 28, a chartered accountant from Matunga. “I want a traffic-free city,” said his wife Setu, 28, a jewellery designer.
For the artists, the response has been gratifying. “Nothing beats this kind of engagement with my work,” said Sharmishta Ray, whose installation is titled On the Seashore of Endless Worlds — a steel sculpture of a crescent moon sitting atop a metal seashore merging with a restless sea. “Some ten photographs are being clicked here every minute.”
In the distance, friends Namrata Mistri, 18, Shweta Mukhense, 19, and Shifa Akeel, 22 — all college students — were posing for a selfie with artist Varsha Pandit’s 10-ft-tall ‘no-smoking’ man. “This is our first year at the festival and it’s ten times better than all we had heard from friends and relatives,” said Mistri.