Two female artists in Pune are transforming the city’s oldest market by painting local shops
Annushka Hardikar and Alefiya Kachwalla not only relay the hidden stories through their paintings, but also spread an important message about cleanliness.
Most streets across Indian cities are either littered with garbage or are bare and boring. But these days, several streets are getting a makeover with NGOs, individuals, and even government initiatives like Swachh Bharat working towards beautifying them.
Among them are graphic designer Annushka Hardikar (24) and digital marketer Alefiya Kachwalla (25) from Pune who are changing the way streets look by painting on shop shutters.
Through their collaborative art project Fresh Coat, the duo has breathed a new lease of life and beauty in Pune's oldest market area Raviwar Peth. So far, they have painted over 20 store shutters and about 18 shops.
Annushka and Alefiya are also sharing the hidden stories of the shops through their paintings and spreading an important message about cleanliness.
The first stroke, the first shutter
It all began with a paper shop King's Paper and Stationery, owned by Alefiya’s father. Having lived around the market, she realised that the space had a deeper and more meaningful story to tell, which needs to be documented.
Soon, Alefiya reached out to Annushka to work on her idea. Speaking to Edex Live, she explains,
“Stories about the families who owned the shops, about how they set up the shops, the city, Alefiya felt that those were fascinating and that was the culture that Pune as a city has been upholding. We thought these stories needed to be told and the best way to that is through art. We began planning from December 2018.”
Painting the shutters wasn’t their first option - they initially wanted to paint the walls. But, Annushka says there weren’t enough empty walls in the area, and the duo then decided to paint the shutters.
The storytelling process
The two decided to use the shutters to depict the stories of the shops. Speaking with The Hindu, she said,
“Ultimately, it is their space. So, it’s been a very collaborative effort. We sat with the shop owner and recorded their story before the artist made the first sketch. This was further worked upon, adding suggestions from the owners.”
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Each shutter is painted in a unique way and the duo went from one shop to another engaging with the shopkeepers, attracting a lot of customers to these shops as well.
In their initial phase, which spanned from April 1 to June 1, 2019, the project had 30 artists on board.
Talking about the process, Annushka said,
“Shutters are mostly metallic ones, some are wooden. The paint we typically use is oil-based as that lasts longer, has a better shelf-life, and does not get corroded easily. Each artwork was created with different artists”, Edex Live reports.
Sometimes, even the shopkeepers have a take in the process, asking how they want their shops and shutters to be painted. One wanted the painting to focus on what they sell while another wanted to showcase how they wanted customers to be their partners.
Speaking further on the process, she said,
“We would be mostly done in three hours, like from 6 am to 9 am, on Sundays. We required more people on bumpy shutters and it would typically take an entire Sunday, or if touch-ups were to be done, we came on one more Sunday to finish everything”, reports Edex Live.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
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