The Wall Project: BMC Plays Tom Sawyer & Everyone Wins!


It has been nearly a week now since The Wall Project and I’m so happy to say that it was a stupendous, tremendous, awesome success! I was thrilled to have been part of the event. The photographs are still surfacing on Facebook, people tagging each other and comparing notes.

Having put out an ‘official’ call on Twitter, I know I really should have been at the venue by the stipulated 8a.m. but I plead a swine flu scare which made me stay in bed with the sniffles till afternoon. Thankfully for me, my dear Aditya shook me out of my hypochondriacal stupor with a,

You really don’t know what you’re missing! Take care of yourself and I hope you feel better soon.

Hain! Such things could not be endured so like a flash we were out of bed and chugging our way to Mahim station. Since I got there only half-way through the day, I missed picking out one of the early spots close to the station entrance. Still, I’d like to think that the quality of the paintings improve as you move from Mahim to Matunga. Heh, ‘my’ wall and those of my friends are nearly at the end, right next to Matunga Road station! 😉

FIrst day collage

Moksh planted...err, painted...trees. Simple, detailed and lovely.

Moksh planted...err, painted...trees. Simple, detailed and lovely.

The BMC had provided paints, brushes and thoughtfully, a tanker full of water to splash up. On Day 1, I even managed to get a lift from them from the station, all the way down to my wall. Aditya, Rehab, Spitphyre and Vagrant Seeker had been already and created their colourful collage, replete with Twitter ids. They also very thoughtfully helped me start up my first wall project and left me to fill in the end details.

On the BMC truck

Left to right: BMC guy, @wanderblah, @ideasmithy, @Spitphyre, @Adityab, BMC guy

Since the BMC came around to wrap up by around 5:30pm, I’m afraid it turned out to be a rather rushed job. The results can be seen on a pinky-pink wall with green swirly things and bleeding red eyes, almost opposite to the J&J building. I was gunning for a psychedelic design but I’m afraid it ended up being more kiddy crayoney.

Pink psychedelia

Pink Psychedelia: My efforts at the end of Day 1

I also managed to carefully white-wash the wall on its immediate left, layering on the paint evenly. When the BMC guys took away my paints, I vowed to get back early the next day and start on the white wall.

Whitewash

If you're wondering why there's white in my hair, it's my swine-flu protection pushed up to double up as headband!

Rather unfortunately the next day too, my sleepy somnambulistic side surfaced and I ended up getting there only around noon (Aditya, stop laughing! You also turned up at exactly the same time!). To my grimacing-frowny dismay, the whitewashed wall had been taken over by a family. What’s more, my carefully even-toned whitewash was being covered meticulously by layer over layer of blue-black. Ah well, I cut my losses and decided to look for another wall further up.

Happily I bumped into Shawn, Wanderblah, Jayant, Spitphyre, Aniceto and Jai at the end of the road. The corner after the tree seemed to become ‘ours’ as we set up our mini-studio there, piling up our backpacks onto the carriers of the taxis close by and painting the adjacent walls. We were joined in the middle of the day by Ashwin, Princila and Sayan. Princila took up the brush to paint a little something right under my painting. She says it’s a man being splashed with paint but I personally think it looks like a guy running away from the spotlight…which inspired me to spray an ‘AnonyMouse’ next to it.

I never imagined painting a wall could be so much fun and I realize in retrospect that it was only because it was such a community event. None of my art classes or solo ventures have been as thrilling as the weekend I spent with these amazing guys. We poked fun at each other’s artwork, we photographed together and each other in weird poses (and continue to leave silly comments on each other’s FB albums), we shared paints and brushes, we mixed up our ideas and added to each other’s work. It was such a lovely, brilliant day!

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Top l-r: Jai, Spitphyre, Adityab, Wanderblah. Bottom: Ideasmith, Shawn

We also received our 10 seconds of fame when Aparna brought in an interview on UTVi (aired yesterday and to be repeated on the weekend; youtube video to be linked shortly). Their anchor was very prettily (and somewhat unsuitably) dressed in a lavender formal shirt, wherein she borrowed my paint-streaked apron (already smuggled out of mum’s kitchen). That’s the one that you see on her in the video. 😀

Interviewed by UTVi

With @Spitphyre, being interviewed on UTVi for a TechTree segment.

There was a spot of unpleasantness when we tussled for the plastic stool and spray paint cans with our neighbors, one of whom left after uttering a diabolical statement that the paintings may not be around the next day.

But the ickiest part of the day wasn’t the mean neighbors or the blue-paint which turned out to be a shitty brown. It was the attack of the Twitter vandals. If you’ve been around on the Twitterverse, you’ll know who I’m talking about. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I invited the leader of that gang to visit the wall and join us in the project, earlier in the day. Of course I had no way of knowing that his version of contributing to The Wall Project would be to spray-paint his own name on other people’s good work, mess around with some really fantastic paintings, take stupid dirty photos of the wall and finally to add insult to injury, tweet that,

We’re done desecrating the wall project.

I’m embarrassed to say that I know this man. Most of the tweeple who were around that day have unfollowed the vandals in question. The leader of that gang has since initiated a ‘clean-up’ effort and accordingly tweeted pictures of his effort. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m left with a the thought that,

That’s just uncool. Only for losers, dude.

‘Nuff said.

The highlight of our day was the Twitter wall that we painted in our far corner. One panel was painstakingly painted shiny blue (we couldn’t get the pale sky blue of Twitter) long after everyone else had packed up. And then we recreated a Twitter timeline with actual tweets from the gang that was there. I’m so proud of us for this one guys, you all rock!

Wall Twitter - All

Though the Project spanned only two days, people are still talking about it. There’s newpapers, the TV interview and loads and loads of photographs circulating on Facebook and discussions still happening. Yes, the BMC may have pulled a Tom Sawyer on us but what the hell, it was fun, wasn’t it (aching bones notwithstanding)?!

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Hidden Tiger, Crouching @adityab

Hidden Tiger, Crouching @adityab

Painting @krist0ph3r's face. Don't miss his expression!

Painting @krist0ph3r's face. Don't miss his expression!

DangerMouse on the divider

DangerMouse on the divider

Aniceto with Jai. Aditya in the background making big eyes.

Aniceto with Jai. Aditya in the background making big eyes.

And here are the results of the brilliant efforts of the wonderful people I was with.

Reena

Spitphyre's fairytale

Shawn

Shawn's SCREAM

Wanderblah and Jhayu doing their crazy thing!

Wanderblah and Jhayu doing their crazy thing!

@adityab's Space Wars

@adityab's Space Wars

And here’s my piece de resistance (I hope that was used in the right context *gulp*) – my own wall!!! **DRUM ROLL**

Here’s the chess board representing order and structure, being ripped apart by a hand (whose model was a street kid called Sultan). A conversation with Sultan resulted in the painting of a crown and then a king who looked like a queen. Hence that’s the Red Queen looking very happy over the breakdown of order.

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It's a honour, a high honour you see, to have tea with the Red Queen and me! - Alice in Wonderland

And finally, the resultant chaos, also known as the hungama inside my head or as you know it – theideasmithy.com. TADA!!! Incidently I stand accused of using up half of BMC’s paint supplies on one wall. I’ve also been diagnosed by the God of Gas as suffering from a disorder that makes me scared of blank spaces in art. Ah, mea culpa. See for yourself –

Me and my wall 2

You can also see Princila's paint-splash guy on the lower panel. AnonyMouse is yet to be added.

Incidentally I rode down to Tulsi Pipe Road the next night because I just couldn’t resist taking one more look. While all the other paintings in our corner were intact and looking quite brilliant in the night, I was most dismayed to find that Setto’s imaginative pink piggy in a suit had been splashed with a dab of red paint running down from the pig’s nose. Agitated, I spoke to him and told him about it. I was quite unprepared to hear him chuckle and say that he wished he had been there when it was done, he’d have shot a video. I asked him how he could possibly feel that way, I felt so bad when I saw it vandalized. Very wisely and oh so cooly he replied,

Hmmm… its graffiti. You know the fact someone did that makes me happy, coz that was what the party needed. Something unorganized…chaotic…the whole scene was too much like a ‘slumming’ party. Whoever did that is adding another layer to the image..and whoever follows him is doing so too.

Aniceto

Hmm, I wonder who the inspiration for the piggy face was...

Hmm, that’s food for thought. That is what street art is about I guess. And that’s what this city is about. Layers over layers. Colour and cheating, fights and fun, friends and vandals, silliness and talent. It’s just Mumbai.

Some other posts about the Wall Project:

Jhayu – “On Dirty Walls, Sundays and Stained Fingers”

Punk Polka Dots – “When India Takes 2 Steps Forward..”

Aditya (on Facebook Notes) – “Food, Drink, Writing And The Wall Project”

Deepa – “The Wall Project August 15, 2009”

*All the photographs in this piece have been taken by Wanderblah, JhayuSpitphyre and Aditya.

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19 thoughts on “The Wall Project: BMC Plays Tom Sawyer & Everyone Wins!

  1. Aham (Harish Iyer) August 21, 2009 at 15:05 Reply

    Wow! How I wish i knew to paint, i feel so black and white.

    i want to paint and draw… but cant draw a straight line … Hai Hai!

    Like

  2. Aditya August 21, 2009 at 15:18 Reply

    Vaaaairy nicely put! Much more detail than mine (so next time, I’m gonna wait for your report and then write mine :P). And I’d completely forgotten Tom Sawyer.

    Also, ahem …

    Aditya, stop laughing! You also turned up at exactly the same time!

    … the difference here being that I was supposed to arrive at noon.

    Also, I like Ceto’s attitude on this. He is a wise man, and way cool to boot.
    .-= Aditya´s last blog ..McSweeney’s Book-Haul =-.

    Like

  3. Jhayu August 21, 2009 at 15:41 Reply

    She carefully leaves me out of all the pics. Hmmm. I iz watching, Ideasmith, I iz watching.
    .-= Jhayu´s last blog ..Of Dirty Walls, Sundays and Stained Fingers =-.

    Like

  4. IdeaSmith August 21, 2009 at 16:58 Reply

    @Harish: Baby, you’re the most colourful person I know these days!

    @Aditya: Absolutely, my sweetie-boo!

    @Jhayu: Guuullllllp. That wasn’t deliberate. You see a certain member of the group wanted to be anonymous. The only pics I have of you, have this person as well so I didn’t see how I could keep my word and also put you up as well. Vairy sowwweee.

    Like

  5. - melody|Mumbai August 21, 2009 at 18:17 Reply

    […] details (with photos) here. There are 0 comments to this post. Add Your […]

    Like

  6. Broom August 25, 2009 at 08:58 Reply

    This sounds like so much fun. Wish I’d been there.
    .-= Broom´s last blog ..Ode to Joy =-.

    Like

    • IdeaSmith August 25, 2009 at 17:03 Reply

      @Broom: You totally should have been there! Is that making you want to visit Mumbai? 😀 Do come, I’d love to meet you!

      Like

  7. Broom August 27, 2009 at 06:03 Reply

    Yeah – totally making me homesick.
    Will definitely ping you when I visit next.
    .-= Broom´s last blog ..Ci, Ca et L’autre =-.

    Like

  8. 25BAR September 5, 2009 at 16:20 Reply

    I love this project. Was meant to participate the last time, but nevertheless. Always a next time.
    .-= 25BAR´s last blog ..b &w =-.

    Like

    • IdeaSmith September 10, 2009 at 15:47 Reply

      @25BAR: I believe it happens in multiple locations. The next time I hear about it, I’ll put up a shout on the blog. Stay tuned in!

      Like

  9. […] spotted Neil Dantas at The Wall Project and I just had to stop him to tell him just how I Style! he was! i am the […]

    Like

  10. […] two months back, I wrote about the exciting experience of being part of The Wall Project in Mumbai. A BMC initiative, a number of citizens turned out to beautify and place their own mark […]

    Like

  11. […] Bombay Wall Project. More about the wall project, and it’s success can be found here, here and here. The Wall Project, a humble project that started out with a few enthusiastic people, […]

    Like

  12. […] day she was dressed like the pretty girl that she is. But her sense of colour blew me away during the Wall Project. Move over street artists, bright walls and graffitiers, Reena’s outfit puts everyone to […]

    Like

  13. […] married yesterday to her longtime sweetheart Melroy. I met Reena through Adi and bonded with her at The Wall Project. If you visit the Tulsi Pipe Road stretch just to the left of Matunga Road station, you’ll still […]

    Like

  14. […] some exciting (and turbulent) experiences last year, here comes the baap of all community events – Mumbai […]

    Like

  15. Reverb 10.9: Party « The Idea-smithy December 10, 2010 at 13:55 Reply

    […] got to know Reena at The Wall Project. She was a friend of Adi, who I had just gotten to know the week before and invited to the said […]

    Like

  16. Kieran June 4, 2013 at 00:13 Reply

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you
    know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not
    sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

    Like

    • IdeaSmith June 6, 2013 at 15:30 Reply

      @Kieran: They appear to load alright on my machine. Could you please check again? Perhaps there was a temporary issue around the time you logged in?

      Like

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