On a lane off Bhandarkar Road, a bungalow — made of stone and brick, surrounded by a lush garden, and reminiscent of post-Independence architecture — is counting down to the day it will be reduced to rubble, and a swanky new condominium takes its place.
Built by Vasant Godbole, a cvil engineer, and Kusum Tai Godbole, one of the founders of Suhrud Mandal, a school for special children, in 1963, the house is a part of an era when artists such as Pandir Bhimsen Joshi, SD Phadnis and Gopal Deuskar would be guests.
On Sunday morning, a different group of artists decided to celebrate the house one last time through art. At the initiative of the owners, the Godbole family, members of Urban Sketchers Pune descended on the house – called ‘Shankara’ — with pencils, pens, paint and pads, and created works inspired by it.
In documenting the house, some artists looked for stories to capture and others attempted to catch the essence of the space.
Mayuresh Shirolkar, one of the coordinators of the group, felt his architect’s eye drawn to the parallel stone walls that gave the house its character. The design of the house is inspired by architects such as Louis Sullivan.
“I found it to be cubist, with columns and strong edges. It was designed with a lot of care and interest. I felt that the two walls gave strength to the entire structure, not only physically but also visually. I sketched the building, once from one corner and then the other side, to get a complete perspective of the walls. Everything else about the house seemed to be floating from the two parallel walls,” he says.
In some works, such as watercolours, the house peeps through a covering of foliage while, in others, the gate is the point of focus.
“My grandparents were connoisseurs of art, music and theatre. Our house has witnessed weddings, engagements, concerts and talks. Children have climbed the branches here, laughing, crying, digging deep, and growing roots. I wanted to do something special to mark its 57 years of standing strong, so I invited the Urban Sketchers Pune to our yard and promised them a cup of tea and biscuits for two hours of celebration of art. Around 25 artists came over, sat around Shankara and sketched away. It was a beautiful morning and what better way to bid adieu to our much loved house than to immortalise it,” says Shilpa Godbole, a marketing professional.
This was also the first time that Urban Sketchers Pune, a chapter of an international art movement, was stepping out since the pandemic drove the country indoor. The artists wore masks, sanitised frequently and there was no group photo after the event. The artwork were bought out by the owners, who organised a display near the stairs.
“Saying goodbye to our house is the hardest part of our life. It is like saying goodbye to a loved one,” says Shilpa, adding that both her grandparents had passed away in the house they had built and nurtured as connoisseurs of art.
It was the relationship of the house with people that Manish Pimpley, another sketcher and an IT professional, was drawn to. In his works, the bungalow is the backdrop to people creating a buzz, comfortable in one another’s presence, interacting, documenting in sketches their own perspective and interpretation.
“As the sketching session was on, I noticed a woman with a drum arriving at the scene with two children for ‘jogwa’. She looked up at the house and I found another point of view, of an outsider to the scene and house, but connecting and engaging…” says Manish.
Soon, Shankara will live on in memories and these works of art
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