Life & Style

Where shutters speak: on Pune’s collaborative street art project, A Fresh Coat

The roads of Bohri Ali, one of Pune’s oldest wholesale markets, are always congested. But recently there have been more than shoppers milling around. The last few weeks have seen locals and tourists alike making a beeline for the century-old marketplace in Raviwar Peth — to appreciate a series of over 20 artsy store shutters.

The project, A Fresh Coat, is helmed by Annushka Hardikar, 24, a graphic designer, and Alefiya Kachwalla, 25, a digital marketer. A friend’s Instagram posts on the shutter art she’d come across in Spain gave them the idea to give their hometown’s old stores — near the now-crumbling Shaniwar Wada Fort, which was once a seat of the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire — a makeover.

Where shutters speak: on Pune’s collaborative street art project, A Fresh Coat

“We started off in April by painting the shutters of Alefiya’s father’s stationery shop, with a couple of friends. The store has been in the family for three generations,” explains Hardikar. “We then began approaching other shopkeepers. There was some scepticism initially — some thought we were painting advertisements — but now they understand and appreciate our efforts to create individual designs that represent their shops.” The duo met up with 14 artists, including multi-disciplinary artist Shikha Nambiar, graphic designer Chirag Shah and textile designer Priyanka Sachdev, along with 25 volunteers, every Sunday for almost three months to paint the shutters.

Stories in colour

The collaborative street art project not only aims to share stories and the area’s history, but also to promote cleanliness, draw new crowds and “break stereotypes about the old city”. Hardiker shares that while undertaking the work, they were conscious of both the individual’s and community’s stories. “Ultimately, it is their space. So it’s been a very collaborative effort. We sat with the shop owner and recorded his/her story, before the artist made a first sketch. This was further worked upon, adding suggestions from the owners,” she says. The artworks are colourful and thematic: larger-than-life paint tubes, stacks of books with a thread running through them, hardware pipes depicted in soothing shades of blue and green, quite a departure from their industrial image.

Where shutters speak: on Pune’s collaborative street art project, A Fresh Coat

“We’ve come across so many interesting people and stories. There’s a store that sells every imaginable kind of balloon, and he started out by selling from a cart. Another sells paint — it’s been run by the family since 1885 and the land for the shop was gifted by the Peshwas. An agri-tools shop gets the bulk of its customers come from outside Pune. The farmers who’d bought their first tools there keep coming back because they believe it [the store] brings them luck. The oldest bookshop in Pune is also here; they still hand-bind their books.”

Calling for collabs

The youngsters are already planning phase two. With a crowdfunding request out on the digital platform, Ketto, they are looking at November to renew their project. “We’ve got many requests from the market area and other parts of the city to create artwork,” says Hardikar, adding that they are open to taking up bigger murals and wall art. With a wish list of artists they want to work with, they are also eager to collaborate across the country with design studios and street art projects like St+art India Foundation. For now, they are in talks with local organisations to host “heritage walks, workshops and even pop-ups in the area”.

Details: afreshcoat.in

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:19:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/on-collaborative-street-art-project-a-fresh-coat/article28940613.ece

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