Believed to be the last colony set up by the British before they left India, Lodhi Colony in Delhi now has new colours and patterns to boast. Its walls are the canvas for artists from around the world — Iran, Germany and Japan, among others. Thirteen artists have spent the last few weeks in the area, stretching from Khanna Market to Meherchand Market, with an endeavour to turn it into an art district. “This area has been neglected by the people living around it, one can see posters spoiling several walls,” says Akshat Nauriyal, content director and co-founder of the Street Art Festival.
The area has seen a steady footfall over the last couple of years, with the opening of high-end bakeries, boutique designer stores, organic food outlets coupled with existing and popular kirana shops, tailoring units and street food options. It sits as a rurban (rural urban) combine, making it accessible to people from all sections of society.
Hanif Kureshi, co-founder and artistic director of the festival, says that the project was initiated almost a year back, but has gained pace now. “We had started the project last year on two walls, in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council, but couldn’t continue as we did not have permission from the Central Public Works Department and Ministry of Urban Development. This year, however, they are also part of the project.”
The renderings range from lotus flowers painted by Japanese artist Suiko to “Calligraffiti”, an interpretation of a self-written poem, by Dutch artist Niels Shoe Meulman, who dwells on his love for the greens. Delhi-based Anpu Varkey has volcanic lava forming a tree that consumes entire buildings, “shadowing the menace in the minds of the people”. Japanese artist Lady AIKO has the legendary Rani of Jhansi on a horse, with a child tied on her back, brandishing a sword, at Lodhi Colony. A similar mural is on the F Block walls in Connaught Place.
The coming weeks will see several more artists painting on the walls in this part of Delhi. Among others, German artist Hendrick Beikirch will be seen designing a mural of a “truck-sign writer”, and French duo Lek and Sowat will also be seen with their brush working around an Indian proverb with a group of painters from India.
“Art and culture are two very powerful tools that can make people come out of their houses and appreciate the public spaces around them, and this is exactly what we are aiming through this project,” says Giulia Ambrogi, curator of Lodhi Art District.