Concept Name: Malleshwaram’s Sparrows
Sparrows are connected to the old world of Malleshwaram. Spandana’s mural brings to notice one of the last known population pools of sparrows. The memories of Malleshwaram are often ﬁlled with stories of sparrows from childhood. This mural not only connects with the disappearing biodiversity but also the nostalgic deep connection to nature that Malleshwaram has.
Geechugalu: Tell us a bit about yourself, and your art practice involving disappearing sparrows in Malleshwaram.
Spandana: I’m a ceramic artist, currently pursuing my masters in Ceramic and glass design from Visva bharathi university, Bolpur, West Bengal. I’m also an illustrator and a graphic designer. In the art piece at Malleshwaram, I chose to highlight the problem of disappearing sparrows, which have long been residents of the area, and are now very few in number. I wanted to throw light on the said problem, while touching the nostalgia associated with the birds/ecosystem of the place.
A part of my project is also to install ceramic watering pots, which will be designed to be filled up with natural resources, such as rain or dew from the leaves of the tree directly above the mural, to help the birds in the area.
Geechugalu: Being an artist in the street art movement, are there any precursors to mural making that you would like to share with an aspiring artist community?
Spandana: To me personally, understanding the physical location of the public art project and using the sensibilities of the area into your art is a major step.
Geechugalu: What had been some of the challenges that came up in executing a mural piece in a public space in a state of pandemic?
Spandana: In a state of pandemic, the most recurring issue was that the locals wanted to be involved in the project physically, due to long isolation/ missing of public interaction, and social distancing in such instances became a problem. They were extremely hospitable people who wanted to offer us refreshments, while this would’ve been a wonderful experience under normal circumstances; but during the pandemic it caused more stress than relief, contrary to their intentions.
Geechugalu: Describe a significant event that occurred as part of your public art experience. Why was this significant to you?
Spandana: One of the more memorable events that occurred during my public art experience, was that I had a father-daughter duo come in and help paint a part of the mural.
This was an extremely heart-warming experience, as the father and daughter seemed to be bonding in this activity, they were discussing how to be of best help to me, and spoke about the daughter’s interest in art, and how the father stopped making art ever since he moved to Bangalore to start a family.
Geechugalu: What underlying issues (societal, interpersonal) surfaced as a result of your public art experience?
Spandana: The conservancy lane that I was painting on, had one men’s PG, and all other structures were residential spaces, mostly occupied by families. I was told by one of the residents, that there have been instances of a bunch of young men smoking/ ganging up in the evenings on that street, which made it extremely difficult to let their children play out in the open after sundown, or even for the women to take a walk.
The same lady also mentioned that there was a chain snatching incident right outside the gate of her house, because of how inaccessible the lane had been.
Geechugalu: Was there a moment when you felt vulnerable or found difficulties during this project? Are there any other places you’ve painted at where you felt similarly?
Spandana: It’s not easy for a female artist to go to a conservancy lane and be alone. I had an experience there where I went a little ahead, and starting painting in a lane where there was a boy’s PG, and a constant movement of those guys up and down the road, so there was a need of a male volunteer to hang around at my site just to ensure some safety/security for the artist. It became a bit intimidating at one point envisioning the art in a particular space. There are certain vulnerabilities that don’t get accounted for.
Geechugalu: What were some of your highs or places where you felt that everything came together?
Spandana: After about 2 days of work on the mural, the piece started to come together.
There was a lot of appreciation from the people of the area, it started a lot of conversation in the community and that’s when I realised the purpose of the artwork was achieved to a certain extent at least.
Geechugalu: Do you carry any personal connection with Malleshwaram? If yes, then what have been some of your fondest memories in Malleshwaram?
Spandana: The fondest memory of Malleshwaram so far, has been the time I spent exploring the area and coming up with the concept of the mural that I wanted to paint.
That was a time that involved a lot of visits to the physical location of the area, understanding the ways of Malleshwaram, and exploring what made it so special.