It has been nearly a week now since The Wall Project and I’m so happy to say that it was a stupendous, tremendous, awesome success! I was thrilled to have been part of the event. The photographs are still surfacing on Facebook, people tagging each other and comparing notes.
Having put out an ‘official’ call on Twitter, I know I really should have been at the venue by the stipulated 8a.m. but I plead a swine flu scare which made me stay in bed with the sniffles till afternoon. Thankfully for me, my dear Aditya shook me out of my hypochondriacal stupor with a,
You really don’t know what you’re missing! Take care of yourself and I hope you feel better soon.
Hain! Such things could not be endured so like a flash we were out of bed and chugging our way to Mahim station. Since I got there only half-way through the day, I missed picking out one of the early spots close to the station entrance. Still, I’d like to think that the quality of the paintings improve as you move from Mahim to Matunga. Heh, ‘my’ wall and those of my friends are nearly at the end, right next to Matunga Road station! ;-)
The BMC had provided paints, brushes and thoughtfully, a tanker full of water to splash up. On Day 1, I even managed to get a lift from them from the station, all the way down to my wall. Aditya, Rehab, Spitphyre and Vagrant Seeker had been already and created their colourful collage, replete with Twitter ids. They also very thoughtfully helped me start up my first wall project and left me to fill in the end details.
Since the BMC came around to wrap up by around 5:30pm, I’m afraid it turned out to be a rather rushed job. The results can be seen on a pinky-pink wall with green swirly things and bleeding red eyes, almost opposite to the J&J building. I was gunning for a psychedelic design but I’m afraid it ended up being more kiddy crayoney.
I also managed to carefully white-wash the wall on its immediate left, layering on the paint evenly. When the BMC guys took away my paints, I vowed to get back early the next day and start on the white wall.
Rather unfortunately the next day too, my sleepy somnambulistic side surfaced and I ended up getting there only around noon (Aditya, stop laughing! You also turned up at exactly the same time!). To my grimacing-frowny dismay, the whitewashed wall had been taken over by a family. What’s more, my carefully even-toned whitewash was being covered meticulously by layer over layer of blue-black. Ah well, I cut my losses and decided to look for another wall further up.
Happily I bumped into Shawn, Wanderblah, Jayant, Spitphyre, Aniceto and Jai at the end of the road. The corner after the tree seemed to become ‘ours’ as we set up our mini-studio there, piling up our backpacks onto the carriers of the taxis close by and painting the adjacent walls. We were joined in the middle of the day by Ashwin, Princila and Sayan. Princila took up the brush to paint a little something right under my painting. She says it’s a man being splashed with paint but I personally think it looks like a guy running away from the spotlight…which inspired me to spray an ‘AnonyMouse’ next to it.
I never imagined painting a wall could be so much fun and I realize in retrospect that it was only because it was such a community event. None of my art classes or solo ventures have been as thrilling as the weekend I spent with these amazing guys. We poked fun at each other’s artwork, we photographed together and each other in weird poses (and continue to leave silly comments on each other’s FB albums), we shared paints and brushes, we mixed up our ideas and added to each other’s work. It was such a lovely, brilliant day!
We also received our 10 seconds of fame when Aparna brought in an interview on UTVi (aired yesterday and to be repeated on the weekend; youtube video to be linked shortly). Their anchor was very prettily (and somewhat unsuitably) dressed in a lavender formal shirt, wherein she borrowed my paint-streaked apron (already smuggled out of mum’s kitchen). That’s the one that you see on her in the video. :D
There was a spot of unpleasantness when we tussled for the plastic stool and spray paint cans with our neighbors, one of whom left after uttering a diabolical statement that the paintings may not be around the next day.
But the ickiest part of the day wasn’t the mean neighbors or the blue-paint which turned out to be a shitty brown. It was the attack of the Twitter vandals. If you’ve been around on the Twitterverse, you’ll know who I’m talking about. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I invited the leader of that gang to visit the wall and join us in the project, earlier in the day. Of course I had no way of knowing that his version of contributing to The Wall Project would be to spray-paint his own name on other people’s good work, mess around with some really fantastic paintings, take stupid dirty photos of the wall and finally to add insult to injury, tweet that,
We’re done desecrating the wall project.
I’m embarrassed to say that I know this man. Most of the tweeple who were around that day have unfollowed the vandals in question. The leader of that gang has since initiated a ‘clean-up’ effort and accordingly tweeted pictures of his effort. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m left with a the thought that,
That’s just uncool. Only for losers, dude.
The highlight of our day was the Twitter wall that we painted in our far corner. One panel was painstakingly painted shiny blue (we couldn’t get the pale sky blue of Twitter) long after everyone else had packed up. And then we recreated a Twitter timeline with actual tweets from the gang that was there. I’m so proud of us for this one guys, you all rock!
Though the Project spanned only two days, people are still talking about it. There’s newpapers, the TV interview and loads and loads of photographs circulating on Facebook and discussions still happening. Yes, the BMC may have pulled a Tom Sawyer on us but what the hell, it was fun, wasn’t it (aching bones notwithstanding)?!
And here are the results of the brilliant efforts of the wonderful people I was with.
And here’s my piece de resistance (I hope that was used in the right context *gulp*) – my own wall!!! **DRUM ROLL**
Here’s the chess board representing order and structure, being ripped apart by a hand (whose model was a street kid called Sultan). A conversation with Sultan resulted in the painting of a crown and then a king who looked like a queen. Hence that’s the Red Queen looking very happy over the breakdown of order.
And finally, the resultant chaos, also known as the hungama inside my head or as you know it – theideasmithy.com. TADA!!! Incidently I stand accused of using up half of BMC’s paint supplies on one wall. I’ve also been diagnosed by the God of Gas as suffering from a disorder that makes me scared of blank spaces in art. Ah, mea culpa. See for yourself –
Incidentally I rode down to Tulsi Pipe Road the next night because I just couldn’t resist taking one more look. While all the other paintings in our corner were intact and looking quite brilliant in the night, I was most dismayed to find that Setto’s imaginative pink piggy in a suit had been splashed with a dab of red paint running down from the pig’s nose. Agitated, I spoke to him and told him about it. I was quite unprepared to hear him chuckle and say that he wished he had been there when it was done, he’d have shot a video. I asked him how he could possibly feel that way, I felt so bad when I saw it vandalized. Very wisely and oh so cooly he replied,
Hmmm… its graffiti. You know the fact someone did that makes me happy, coz that was what the party needed. Something unorganized…chaotic…the whole scene was too much like a ‘slumming’ party. Whoever did that is adding another layer to the image..and whoever follows him is doing so too.
Hmm, that’s food for thought. That is what street art is about I guess. And that’s what this city is about. Layers over layers. Colour and cheating, fights and fun, friends and vandals, silliness and talent. It’s just Mumbai.
Some other posts about the Wall Project:
A glimpse of the The Wall Project Aug 15 2009
|From The Wall Project Aug 15 2009|
Pop culture meets city pride. What better way to get citizens invested in beautification than to get them involved in it too? Here’s presenting THE WALL PROJECT that invites Mumbaikers to express themselves in colour on the city’s walls. The Project has been undertaken at several other locations before. This Independence day (15th and 16th of August, actually), the project asks people to paint the wall running along Tulsi Pipe Road from Mahim to Dadar.
This sounds like a damn fine idea to me. Thus far, street art in Mumbai has been restricted to badly painted promotions for local businesses or gruesome posters of B- and C-grade flicks. There is the occasional defacing with a local gang or two hoping to steal some glory for themselves by spray-painting obscene words on school walls and building compounds. But I have full faith in Mumbai. We are after all, the commercial capital, the center of the world’s largest film industry and home to the story of the Slumdog Millionaire. We are nothing else if not dreamers and productive ones at that. What else does one need for art?
Photographers – this is should also be a good opportunity for some fantastic cityscapes.
Okay and I also have to say this. I haven’t visited this location recently but I’m guessing this is the wall running along the station since it is the only continuous stretch of wall along that road. From what I remember, the sidewalk isn’t exactly clean and neither is the wall, having been used as it has, as a public toilet for far too long. But I’m not going to let that deter me and I hope you won’t either. Come dressed in old clothes and sensible shoes and nose-clips if necessary. Beautification isn’t always pretty work. And art is often messy. But it should be fun!
So here’s a call to everyone who’s in the city – pick up a brush and a pot of paint or two and meet me at Tulsi Pipe road on 15th August. Let’s paint this town red (and blue and yellow and green and magenta and lilac and black and…you get the picture :-D ).
And here are the details as I received them:
The Wall Project, a humble project that started out with a few enthusiastic people, is growing to be a bigger, better project. It was an initiative to add visual elements of colour, form and texture to a space, to make the area more alive and generate a feeling among people who pass by it daily.
This process allows one to be more observant about the spaces we use and move within and how we can use various art forms in the public sphere to generate an interest in the minds of our daily human lives. The Wall Project in its own way tries to start a conversation, with no political or religious attachments.
THE GREAT WALL OF MUMBAI
The Wall Project along with the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai is initiating painting sessions on the Tulsi Pipe Road, stretching from Mahim to Dadar running along the Western Railway line in Mumbai. The first phase starts on the 15th -16th August 2009, 0800 HRS onwards.
– look for an arrow indicating the start point on the Walls of Tulsi Pipe Road, (closer to Mahim(West) Railway station) And we could begin painting in that direction.
– it would be nice to come prepared with a thought about what you would like to paint and how much wall space you will require.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
– its open to all. show up on 15th/16th August, 08:00am – 08:00pm and paint your style.
– if you are apprehensive about painting all by yourself then you could assist people who are painting.
– you could come as a group (friends, family etc) with hopefully a constructive idea and paint it.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND
* no adverts, no religious writings on the wall, hopefully no political slogans, no foul language.
* there is a limited amount of paint supplies on location, so early birds…
* being a weekend/national holiday some paint/hardware shops may be shut or close shop early, so you would want to check on what you require in advance.
** clean up around you once your wall is complete
All further updates will be on THE WALL PROJECT group on FACEBOOK.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to write in at – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to c u there.
The Wall Project Team