Lakshmipuram gets an artistic facelift

Lakshmipuram has got a facelift of sorts, thanks to the community-driven WRAP, Walls R Art Project

June 13, 2018 01:10 pm | Updated 01:10 pm IST

The chirpy school-goers did not hide their excitement. The hot summer had evidently failed to quell their enthusiasm. As they sauntered across the streets of Lakshmipuram, the colourful walls spoke for themselves, as Lakshmipuram in Royapettah — once just another mundane part of the bustling city — received a face-lift in May.

Thanks to the summer vacations, an enthusiastic group of around 35 children and a handful of young adults came together to be part of WRAP — Walls R Art Project. The initiative, by the Lakshmipuram Children’s Club (LC 2 ), aims to bring the children of the locality out of their homes and engage them in collaborative projects. It is spearheaded by Nalini Ravindran, the founder of LC 2. “There is so much to learn [from] outside the school and I wanted this place to be where these children would bond with each other and have fun. Even though all the decisions were taken by me, the execution was done entirely by the children,” said Ravindran.

The exercise began with the smaller children of the group sticking posters across the locality, informing the residents of their venture and its broad theme — Nature. They made sure that the walls were whitewashed before they started. Though the 16-to-23-year-olds conceptualised the ideas for illustrations, the five to 15-year-olds were also encouraged to experiment with their imagination. “We used to meet at around 6.15 am every day, for a game of badminton. That was like our warm-up session before getting to work,” said Anusha Rengenathan, a Class XI student. “The kids would come around 4.30 pm to start painting. There were days when we even stayed till 9.30 pm, but we also made sure that the little ones were sent home before dark,” said Rengenathan.

The final product is a series of paintings of landscapes, tape art, abstracts and geometrical patterns splayed across the hitherto dull walls, sprucing up the locality considerably. From bright splotches of contrasting colours to a highly contextual portrait of a farmer at work outside the ration shop, bits of creativity showed up almost everywhere.

The group also made it a point to link a few of their works to the residents who lived within the compounds. Take the compound walls of Carnatic music exponent, R Vedavalli that were embellished with musical notes along with some elements of Nature. “I am very happy about this. They are very creative; I didn’t expect it from this age.”

Beyond gadgets

The idea of the project was to wean the children away from their gadgets and screens. The fact that this initiative was able to inculcate an interest towards outdoor activities, according to the parents, was an important take- away. “Most children these days are single children. They might not have experienced sibling rivalry or the concept of give and take. This was a platform that created an understanding amongst them. They learned to quarrel as well as hug it out and smile,” said Jayanthi Iyengar, a parent and a resident of Lakshmipuram.

Abhishek Venkat, a 23-year-old teacher, was walking his dog when he chanced upon these youngsters going house to house asking for permission to paint on their walls. This struck a chord within him. Thereafter, he had been an active participant who also voluntarily took on the role of coordinating the children. “I have a background in working with kids and it was interesting for me to see the kids bring out their creative content. Most of the seniors in the group took on a supervisory role and encouraged free play among the children,” said Venkat, a Nature enthusiast.

He also encouraged the children to bring out some awareness regarding the trees in the locality. As a result, most young artists have tried to illustrate trees. In addition, the walls were also meant as a deterrent to sticking of posters and public urination. “One day, when 40 kids and 30 parents gathered in front of a wall and one of the parents told me, ‘this looks like our childhood, there was no TV or mobile phones and we were always out on streets’. I think that was our achievement,” said J Lavanya, a 22-year-old resident, who had been actively involved right from conception of the idea. Though initially some residents were reluctant to this initiative, the children’s enthusiasm made the residents rethink their decision.The LC 2 group is eagerly waiting for a weekend to finish the remaining walls.

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