An initiative by DakshinaChitra explored the street culture of art

No plush carpets. No wine and cheese. No oak frames or subtle lighting. None of the things that most urban spaces have come to associate with ‘art'.

When DakshinaChitra began planning its recently-concluded international seminar ‘Urban Visualities', it intended it to be an exploration of the street culture of art. “But, we decided that before talking about it, we should create some first!” says Roos Gerritsen, who has been researching popular visual culture in South Asia, and helped co-ordinate the seminar. So, it was a group of students from the Government College of Fine Arts, a few independent artists and some curious lookers-on that gathered at the Santhome substation, with plenty of brushes and tins of paint for anyone willing to get their hands dirty.

Rough sketches are done swiftly. “We're going to depict a storyboard,” says Mani, a second-year student of sculpture. “It's about why we must use helmets.” Rameez, another second-year-student, is already finishing up the base colours on his wall. “I'm doing the Cooum.” The Cooum of yesteryear or as it is now? “Of now,” he laughs. Indeed, when he's done, it's suitably dark, with mysteriously murky depths.

“The tree of life,” says Samia Khan, when we ask her what her blue wall is going to become. There's also a scene from the seashore, a man placidly walking along, water lapping at his feet. There's Chepauk, and the railway tracks. And, of course, the obligatory abstract sketches as well. As the Sun begins to set, everyone's walking up and down, oohing and aahing over others' works, while the paint dries swiftly in the hot evening air. It's time for finishing touches now, such as signing your name with a flourish, or opting to leave an imprint of your palm at the base of the enormous paintings.

Anybody interested in working on the rest of the wall can call 98410-11785.

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012