Art, design, Mumbai: Kala Ghoda Arts Festival celebrates 21 years of creativity

In our first photo essay on Mumbai’s favourite annual art festival, we showcase some of the outstanding artworks, along with curator insights.

7th Feb 2020
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 440 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.


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Held in Mumbai every year spanning the first two weekends of February, the nine-day Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) now celebrates its 21st edition in style. See our earlier coverage of KGAF editions from 2019, 2018 and 2017.


In addition to indoor and outdoor artworks, KGAF features heritage walks, comedy, theatre, films, food, dance, music, literature, poetry, pottery, and children's workshops. The diverse programming spans a selection of films from the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, a tribute to Girish Karnad, readings by Naseeruddin Shah, and a performance by all-female classical music group Stree Shakti.


“The common theme for the outdoor installations is ‘thread’ – this can be threads of fabric, or ties of connection, or threads connecting past and present,” explains visual arts curator Ami Patel, in a chat with YourStory.


The threads also refer to personal and urban memories, and ties of diversity and culture, she adds. This theme has been used by artists, designers and architects who exhibited over 40 works at KGAF 2020.


For example, one of the exhibits is an ambassador car covered in denim, called ‘Genes of Khadi.’ Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, it conveys the message that jeans represent the culture and values of youth today, while khadi represents Gandhian values.


These values are sorely needed at a time of growing conflict and polarisation in India. “Cotton is the common thread across khadi and jeans. That thread remains common over the decades,” Ami explains.


Another exhibit features a tightrope walker. “This symbolises the fine divisions that people face in their lives today, as they juggle different pulls, pushes and priorities,” Ami adds.


Environmental conservation is another theme running across many of the stalls and exhibits, with messages of ‘refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, reclaim and recycle.’ This includes an installation made from old tyres and plastic bottles at the outdoor Cross Maidan.


“This installation sends out a strong message: do not destroy nature. Humans can be selfish or unaware of the damage they inflict on the environment, and should confront their inner demons,” Ami explains.


In this photo-essay series, we feature some of the exhibits by Milan Singh, Nidhi Mehta, Anupama Shankar, PMUG, Anandwan Smart Village, Aarohana, Reform Mumbai, BNHS India, Itihasi Kala, Bulbuli, Hundred Hands, Ekibeki, Umang, Warsaa, Paper Window, Tribes India, Artisans, DAG, Goethe Institute, Jehangir Gallery, and the Zakir Hussian Maquette exhibition.


Other profiled artists and organisations include Deep Kumar, Manisha Naitam, Strands of Time, WWF, Studio Bolpur, Roots Production, Corkiza, Kahani Kubes, Soul Works, Shilpika Haat, Kainaat Design, OGN, Olee Maatee, Pallet, Taramba Art, Smiles Art Gallery, Shunya Batik, ILF, OMM Stone Art Gallery, Filter, The Clay Factor, Happy Threads, and Essen Meadow.


Ami Patel is herself a mixed-media artist, and has been a KGAF curator for ten years. A graduate of JJ School of Fine Art, she is a director at Kreative ArtLab, and has curated workshops at the Jaipur Art Summit as well. She also offers tips to audiences and aspiring artists.


“Absorb whatever you have been exposed to or done in the past, and build on the layers in a positive manner. Take these threads forward and weave your narrative with it,” Ami signs off.


Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and uncover the different threads of your own story?


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Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!


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