UNESCO World Heritage Day 2019: How St+Art India is changing street art into wonderwalls of art
Stories have forms aplenty and it never really is contained in one form. We’ve grown up on stories flowing all around us - from the made-up fairytales our grandparents told us to the ones we read before bedtime to the books we’ve grown up on along with the films, plays, art, poetry and musicals that have been an important part of our diet - the cultural kind. This is the kind that shapes you mentally and aids personal growth and there could be a right or wrong kind in this too - just like the wrong sort of diet intake leads to health problems and getting into a shape roundish in nature.
In other words, the moment you take a look around, there will be a story around you that might just be waiting to be told.
I came across some wonderful stories during a random exploration of my area of residence in South Mumbai’s Colaba area where St+art India’s mural of a fisherwoman in the Sassoon Docks caught my eye. The team of talented artists had put up scaffoldings and had half-painted the mural by then. On completion, it was absolutely breathtaking, and for more than one reason. For anyone who has been in and around Sassoon Docks would know that even your best perfume will fail you here. But it’s that smell - the one Mumbai (lovingly called Bombay for whom the bay city is bae) - is recognised by. Most people say, “it’s that distinct smell that wafts up to your nose when you enter Mumbai” but for someone who lives around the docks and prospective seafood is seldom able to distinguish. It becomes a part of them and grows on them without so much as giving them an inkling.
This mural of the fisherwoman that graces an old stone wall that may have been constructed during the colonial rule back in the day seemed to have followed me on what I now call an adventure to the capital city, New Delhi.
St+art Foundation started painting the city in more colours than just red and have produced many an Instagram worthy walls for the young crowd on social media with the help of some of the most popular names from the world of art - it includes names from India, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Singapore, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Japan and more. Their project began with Shahpur Jat area in South Delhi - which exists as a reminder of pre and post Mughal era and has continued unto Lodhi Art District - which covers the residential area and more. It’s a treat for the Delhi-wallahs and the visitors trying to get in touch with the heritage value of the city that has witnessed stories over centuries.
Akshat Nauriyal, Content Director and Co-Founder of St+art India says, “It all started back in the day in around 2013-2014, when I was shooting a video for one of the first group walls that had happened, in the Hauz Khas lot. The wall was painted by Bond, Daku, Zion and a few more artists. That’s when I got in touch with the street art community.
The idea was to move away from the elusive nature of the uptight art gallery concepts that the cities have to offer, it’s like a novelty of the rich and elite. We essentially wanted to make art more democratic. We want people to look at public spaces as not being sterile, plain, or non-interactive structures; but something that could also initiate conversation and, in some form, inculcate a thought process which extends from painting beautiful things to painting deeper meanings via projects and spaces that have a deeply rooted social context.”
St+art is also expanding some of their efforts in Mumbai and more recently, Hyderabad. Travellers and art enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to in the country.
Here is an interesting trivia - as a part St+art Mumbai festival in 2014, a prominent building in Mumbai’s Bandra area too was gifted a mural - it features Dadasaheb Phalke looking at an undeveloped reel - clearly reminiscent of his status as Father of Indian Cinema.
Did you know that St+art’s long-time collaborators Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, who own the Social outlets across the country also feature some of their artwork? Here’s an example:
To get the complete feel of the art all around you, take time out for a walk around Lodhi Colony where most of St+art’s work has happened in New Delhi and also remember to catch glimpses of it in Mumbai (Dadasaheb Phalke’s mural is a prominent artwork now and is easily spotted as you enter suburban Mumbai via the sea link) and Hyderabad and stay tuned for more interesting work by the talented team and the artists working in tandem with them - telling their stories, one colour palette at a time.