Transforming public spaces with Tamil Nadu's culture  

It’s tastefully evident. Tamil Nadu’s culture is no longer confined to art galleries but is adorning the walls of public spaces.

author_img Manju Latha Kalanidhi & Vijayalakshmi Sridhar Published :  07th November 2021 11:32 AM   |   Published :   |  07th November 2021 11:32 AM
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Students painting the walls of AJS Nidhi High School

It’s tastefully evident. Tamil Nadu’s culture is no longer confined to art galleries but is adorning the walls of public spaces. Tamil art, sculptures, architectural landmarks, the man-nature connect, even iconic scenes from literature—all are splashed on flyovers, parks, walls of government buildings, hospitals and schools.

Think traditional bull sport like Jallikattu, folk dance Oyilattam, and even local outdoor game gilli danda. These are all part of Singara Chennai 2.0, an attempt by the Greater Chennai Corporation to transform the public spaces filled with graffiti, posters, spillage, and years of other damages to aesthetic and informative messages.

Over 100 artists, including banner painters who suffered job losses during the lockdown, have been roped in for these projects helmed by artist JPK Vijay and his team, who have worked on the facades of Chennai Primary School, a former cyclone shelter at Kathivakkam, Manali Bus Terminus, to name a few. “The brief was to recreate and celebrate our culture and heritage. We decided to paint the local profession. So while it was fishermen in Ennore, it was vegetable and flower vendors in Koyambedu. It took a team of 20 artists and painters to complete the 5,000 sq ft enamel painting in Ennore,” says Vijay.

Meanwhile, the drab walls of the AJS Nidhi Higher Secondary School, Alandur, a suburb of Chennai, has got a fresh stroke of paint. It sports a colourful mural of a young girl sitting near the door of a hut, smiling and looking hopeful. A team of second-year undergraduate art students from Sri Annai Kamakshi Music and Fine Arts College in KK Nagar had a field day transforming the walls.

The paintings depict the co-relationship between animals and humans in the wheel of life and survival. Prabakaran A, a professional sculptor and artist, has collaborated with A Sukumar, one of his peers, to paint the Gemini flyover at Anna Salai. They have curated the stencilled design in a digital collage with the background and set of composition images. “We used acrylic radium paints to give it a pop of colour. Five of us worked for four days on it,” he adds.

Thuvakkam, a Chennai-based NGO that works on education, environment and humanity initiatives for children in government schools, has been roped in to paint the walls of Jaigopal Garodia School, Nanganallur, and Nidhi School, Alandur.  Says Krishna Kumar, CEO, Thuvakkam, “We choose messages that will be suitable for schoolchildren. We have got many requests now and will be working on some more school walls too.”

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