The Skill of Idol Making Celebrated on a Wall in Kolkata

As part of the “Donate a Wall” initiative launched by Asian Paints in association with St+art India Foundation, this mural on CESC Sub-Station in Patuli, Kolkata, focuses on the lives of artisans from Kumartuli.

St+art has a vision of democratising public spaces through art interventions that are rooted in social context. Through each of their projects, the foundation St+art finds causes and communities that need intervention and engages the public imagination by connecting communities and providing a platform for artists and cultural exchanges. In its latest engagement with the local community in Kolkata, the festive spirit of the city gets reflected day and night through the mural which has come up on the CESC sub-station wall at Patuli.

The city of joy during the five-days Durga Puja every year gets adorned by the beautiful idols of Durga and her children for decades. These idols of the goddess of Durga travels from the mystic by lanes of Kumartuli, Kolkata to distant lands ranging from the Caribbean Islands to Washington DC and from Johannesburg to London every year. However, the artisans of Kumartuli – the potter’s colony in Kolkata, famed for its sculptures – never get the attention they deserve. And that was the central theme that inspired St+art India Foundation and Asian Paints, and with this wall they celebrate the craftsmanship of these artisans of Kumartuli through their Donate a Wall initiative.

“As part of the “Donate a Wall”; initiative launched by Asian Paints in association with St+art India Foundation, this mural on CESC Sub-Station in Patuli, focusing on the lives of artisans from Kumartuli, is one out of three such murals which will be coming up in Kolkata this year. We have selected the CESC substation in Patuli owing to its great visibility and importance in the lives of people. Not only people from Kolkata, but most of the people who represent the floating population pass through this part of the city. CESC officials have whole-heartedly welcomed our suggestion. Accordingly, artist Afzaan Pirzaade from Mumbai was involved in executing this mural,” says Ritesh Sharma, Project Manager, St+art India Foundation.

Afzan Pirzade is a mural and graffiti artist based out of Pune who creates artworks with a distinctive urban authenticity. He visited Kumartuli and interacted with various artisans to understand their skills and lifestyles, before conceptualising the design for the mural. “Art and colours have the power to positively impact people and communities. More than 450 workshops are there in the lanes of Kumartuli, working towards weaving the grandeur of Durga Puja for decades. Most of the Kumartuli idol makers are old, working in their small dimly lit rooms. They have been making the idols for years,” Afzan said,”Kumartuli is a place of the very gifted and talented artisans. As the soiled and experienced hands of the Kumartuli idol makers so beautifully craft every nuance of the Goddess with much care and respect, we can simply watch them awe-struck. Indeed, these craftsmen are blessed to bring alive the Goddess with such dexterity. I was touched by their unsung commitment and decided to highlight them through this mural.”

An online campaign was run by Asian paints and St+art inviting people from Kolkata to donate a wall to transform their wall into a work of art driven by a powerful story. This wall at CESC Patuli Sub Station was shortlisted from the various entries received in this online campaign.

“The project “Donate a Wall ” at Patuli Sub-station by St+art India foundation and Asian Paints was a beautiful journey for CESC and for me in particular. This project has highlighted art and dedicated artist of this region. The artists who lead this journey are full of energy and enthusiasm and played beautiful melody of vibrant colours on the big canvas saluting the hardest work of Kumartuli artisans. On behalf of CESC and from the core of my heart thank the St+art India foundation, Asian Paints and artists who created a lighthouse of energy on the wall which delivers power to this city.,” says Abinash Agarwal, Head-Civil, Asset Creation Group, CESC Limited.

All Images Courtesy: ST+ART