Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Public art at Gurgaon

The city of Gurgaon is located just outside the southern border of the national capital of Delhi. It has got rapidly urbanised in the last fifteen years or so, and today its skyline boasts some of India's most recognizable and contemporary high rise residential and commercial buildings.

Gurgaon has an ancient past, and has got its name from "Guru-gram", or literally the "village" of the master. The land was supposed to be owned by the royal families of Pandavas and Kauravas, and was given to Guru Dronacharya in appreciation of his teaching the young princes the art of warfare. 

Just ten years back, peacocks, hoopoe, kingfisher, the tailorbird, robin, sunbird, owls, sparrows and hawks would be seen in plenty on the city balconies, terraces and verandahs. Now with decline of perching places,  a growing population, decreasing green cover, more traffic and urban chaos, most of the birds have disappeared. Some hardy crows, mynahs and pigeons are holding out.

The initiative by the municipal corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) and a citizen's forum, Gurgaon Action Plan (GAP), was welcomed therefore by artists and laymen alike. The idea was to get groups of artists to work together and paint some wall spaces, on anything to do about the past and present of Gurgaon. 

The MCG cleaned up some wall spaces on one of the main roads of the city, M. G. Road. Teams of 5-6 artists worked on each of these walls, with school children, lay citizens and bystanders all chipping in. 

The end result was varied, colourful, and refreshing. The biggest takeaway was getting passers-by to get involved into art. People who had never stepped into a gallery, or never paused to think while rushing to their jobs about beautifying the city, stopped, appreciated and got involved. It was a truly moving experience, to hear from passers by, on how much they appreciated the volunteering artists, and how much they had enjoyed doing their bit!