By : Ananya Bhatia
Mahavir was pulling down the shutters after a regular day at work. An owner of a clothes store in Shankar Market for over 40 years, he was wrapping up for the night. But something caught his attention. The dull walls he was long accustomed to had been doused in bright colours. The next morning would hold more surprises. The facades of the commercial flats above the seven-corridor market had been painted green, yellow, orange and red.
Shankar Market, constructed a few years before Independence, is one of the oldest markets in central Delhi. Its run-down premises are currently being revamped by Delhi Street Art (DSA), a group that promotes public art by young artists. This project is a part of the New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) effort to remodel and revive the market to make it more attractive to a younger crowd. Subsequent plans include opening food joints and cafes. The DSA has previously painted the dustbins in Lodhi Gardens and the one-kilometre wall of the National Bal Bhavan.
Over the next few weekends, 45 Delhi-based artists will transform the market with rainbow colours and murals on every wall. From professional artists, architects and engineers to students, the group will paint each wall with a colour of the rainbow. The tallest building will be painted in the entire spectrum. The art on the walls includes catchy street phrases, cartoons and scenes from everyday life. “I had been looking for such a space for the last few months and when NDMC gave this option, I immediately took it,” says Yogesh Saini of DSA.
It has left the shopkeepers visibly curious and fascinated. “Our market has had the same hospital-like look for so long, I am glad these artists have decided to brighten it up,” says Ravinder Singh, a shopkeeper.
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“We’ll advise NDMC to put speed breakers in and around the area. People will want to slow down once this project is complete,” quips Saini.