On the sidelines of a sporting extravaganza

Three major international sporting events have brought more than talent to Chennai’s shores: they have brought some colour to the city

Published - November 11, 2023 10:42 pm IST

Doused in gentle light paintings on the embossed parts of the compound wall of MA Chidambaram Stadium on Babu Jagajeevanram Salai (Bells Road), the parts that also bear a crumpled-paper texture, come alive. 

Doused in gentle light paintings on the embossed parts of the compound wall of MA Chidambaram Stadium on Babu Jagajeevanram Salai (Bells Road), the parts that also bear a crumpled-paper texture, come alive.  | Photo Credit: PRINCE FREDERICK

A pavement comes alive

Even from the outside, one can guess the M.A. Chidambaram stadium in Chepauk looks the best it ever has, its bearing matching the occasion.

Cricketing superpowers are “at war” for a hallowed metal, and the stadium at Chepauk is putting out a scintillating performance of its own, both intent and effort evident on the walls.

The compound walls display art, seen as much on Bells Road (Babu Jagajeevanram Road) as on Wallajah Road.

On Bells Road the granite pavement is guarded with a hawk’s eye. Security personnel are parked on the pavement to prevent vehicles from being parked along its length. The walls sport embossed paintings. Gently doused, these walls come alive at nightfall.

Black and white and other colours 

In 2022, in the run-up to the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad (July 28-August 10) in Mahabalipuram, there was a reminder of the tournament, as also the sport, at every turn. It was a visual narrative presented in painted and sculpted images. There was no escaping the dhothi-clad Thambi, the chess mascot. From reminders, these artworks graduated to memories, continuing on Chennai’s roads long after the chess virtuosos had finished their moves on the board. And then, the visual chess narrative began to fade away from Chennai roads, but a few vignettes of it still remain, the memory of the sporting extravaganza indelibly tattooed into areas and facilities that are constantly in the public glare. Napier Bridge with its chess board design, spotlighted by lights after evenfall, carries that pleasant collective memory elegantly into the future. 

Brush strokes on a bridge 

In August 2023, Chennai hosted the Asian Champions Trophy, an international men’s hockey tournament involving teams from countries represented in the Asian Hockey Federation. With the tournament held at Mayor Radhakrishnan hockey stadium in Egmore, Greater Chennai Corporation added some colour to the otherwise lacklustre Gandhi-Irwin Bridge. The paintings on the walls of the bridge’s summit may not be Rembrantesque, not by any stretch of the imagination, but they do what they were intended to do: add some colour to a public facility and at the same time offer a visual memory of a sporting event — a job that they continue to do.

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