Mumbai’s 142-year-old Sassoon Dock has gone for complete makeover. Here’s how

Updated on Nov 14, 2017 04:02 PM IST
The Sassoon Dock in Mumbai, home to the city’s traditional Koli fishing community, is wearing a new look these days. As part of the St+art Urban Art Festival, the area has been turned into an exhibition space, with a range of artworks.
Thirty artists from around the world have given the bustling 142-year-old Sassoon Dock, home to Mumbai's traditional Koli fishing community, a colourful makeover.(AFP)
Thirty artists from around the world have given the bustling 142-year-old Sassoon Dock, home to Mumbai's traditional Koli fishing community, a colourful makeover.(AFP)
Agence France-Presse, Mumbai | By

It is hard to believe that street art has transformed one of Mumbai’s oldest fishing docks into an exhibition space. Thirty artists from around the world have given the bustling 142-year-old Sassoon Dock, home to Mumbai’s traditional Koli fishing community, a colourful makeover as part of the St+art Urban Art Festival. “The artworks range from mixed media to graffiti to street-art styles to installations, from using paints to wood to fishing objects,” says Arjun Bahl, co-founder and festival director.

The exhibits include large portraits of Koli fisherfolk -- believed to be Mumbai’s original inhabitants and whose goddess Mumbadevi lends her name to the city -- and brightly painted murals representing women from the community. One installation, entitled Parfum Sassoon, alludes to the dock’s notoriously pungent fishy smell while another has a clear environmental message with its depiction of plastic bottles floating through the ocean.

A photo mural at Sassoon Dock. (AFP)
A photo mural at Sassoon Dock. (AFP)
The exhibition, which opened to public on November 11, runs until December 30. (AFP)
The exhibition, which opened to public on November 11, runs until December 30. (AFP)
Sassoon Dock home to the city’s traditional fishing community, Koli. (AFP)
Sassoon Dock home to the city’s traditional fishing community, Koli. (AFP)
The seven-week-long exhbition is organised by St+art Urban Art Festival. (AFP)
The seven-week-long exhbition is organised by St+art Urban Art Festival. (AFP)
The Sassoon Dock project is part of the seventh edition of the St+art Urban Art festival. (AFP)
The Sassoon Dock project is part of the seventh edition of the St+art Urban Art festival. (AFP)

The Sassoon Dock project is part of the seventh edition of the St+art Urban Art Festival which aims to make art accessible to everyone by transforming a public space. “The whole idea was to bring art to a certain sect of the community who usually don’t interact with art,” explains Bahl, as dock workers push trolleys loaded with fish and boats bob gently in the harbour.

Sassoon Dock was built in 1875 and is home to one of Mumbai’s largest fish markets. It is situated in the district of Colaba, in the southern tip of India’s financial capital. The exhibition, which is free to view, opened to the public on November 11 and runs until December 30. It will also feature screenings, talks and tours.

Another feature of the festival is a giant, multi-coloured mural on the nearby Churchgate railway station showing India’s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi stepping down from a train. It was painted by popular Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.

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