Drivers skirting the Sanjeevaiah Park kept a lookout for speedbreakers and couples criss-crossing the road in search of cul-de-sacs. Now, when they drive past the park, albeit slowly, as work is apace for another round of trench digging, they can catch the sight of metallic sculptures rising sheer out of green lawn.

These are the works of Manohar Chiluveru. Set in a quadrangle of green, amidst massive old trees, and buffeted by two round fountains, the metal wrought sculptures are a sharp contrast and stand out from the surroundings. One of them shows a man with dried branches poking out of the head and another shows hollow men running a chase. Then there are others which are equally thought provoking.

Youngsters pose as their pals go clickety-click with cell phone cameras, older folks stop by and talk about the material with which the sculptures have been crafted. A few years back when the NTR Gardens was inaugurated, the huge fibreglass fruits hanging from the banyan tree had the children in awe. That was a slight tweak in art landscape of the city. Now, the Sanjeevaiah Park installation shows which way the public art world is headed.

Does that mean Hyderabad is ready for public art? Has art appreciation reached a different level?

“This is a first step. But we need real galleries that can display art in all its formats. We need more public involvement. There is more to art than the value of money. Art should go beyond the commercial aspect. Art should stimulate, it should challenge, it should make you think. The installation at Sanjeevaiah Park makes people think,” says Manohar passionately.

“I have always been inspired by big things. I want to express myself in a language that is not limited by size,” says Manohar who once splurged Rs. 70,000 on a painting that was 22 X 60 ft in 2003.

Echoing the sentiment is Fawad Tamakanat, who says: “We don't have the concept of aesthetic training. When I travelled abroad, I would see small children coming into the gallery and viewing the images. These things create an awareness about art. And over a period of time people develop an aesthetic sense where they know what to appreciate.”

The old European cities have their art which passers by can stop and gawk. Indians have been surrounded by art. “We live in a world of art without realising it. The smallest object of everyday use in our homes to the rituals and ceremonies have an element of art and I think that is why we take art for granted,” says Parmeswar Raju. Our vermillion covered door frames have designs, colours and patterns that can actually be passed off as art. Perhaps now, the art scene is changing from a sense of been- there- done- that to an aesthetic sensibility that can grasp the many facets of modern art to make statements about the city and what it believes in.