Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Artists transform 142-year-old Mumbai dock


A worker on Nov. 9 cleans in front of a mural at Sassoon Dock, one of the oldest fishing docks in Mumbai, India.

Photo: AFP

Indian fishers unload their morning catch as sari-clad women carrying buckets on their heads walk past street art that has transformed one of Mumbai’s oldest fishing docks into an exhibition space.

Thirty artists from around the world have given the bustling 142-year-old Sassoon Dock, home to Mumbai’s traditional Koli fishing community, a colorful makeover as part of the St+art Urban Art Festival.

“The artworks range from mixed media to graffiti to street-art styles to installations, from using paints to wood to fishing objects,” cofounder and director Arjun Bahl said.

Exhibits include large portraits of Koli fishers — believed to be Mumbai’s original inhabitants and whose goddess Mumbadevi lends her name to the city — and brightly painted murals representing women from the community.

One installation, entitled Parfum Sassoon, alludes to the dock’s notoriously pungent fishy smell while another has a clear environmental message with its depiction of plastic bottles floating through the ocean.

The Sassoon Dock project is part of the seventh edition of the festival, which aims to make art accessible to everyone by transforming a public space.

“The whole idea was to bring art to a certain sect of the community who usually don’t interact with art,” Bahl said as dock workers pushed trolleys loaded with fish and boats bobbed gently in the harbor.

Sassoon Dock was built in 1875 and is home to one of Mumbai’s largest fish markets. It is in the district of Colaba, in the southern tip of India’s financial capital.

The exhibition, which is free to view, opened to the public on Saturday and runs until Dec. 30. It will also feature screenings, talks and tours.

Another feature of the festival is a giant, multicolored mural on the nearby Churchgate railway station showing India’s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi stepping down from a train. It was painted by popular Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.

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