We're gathering material that looks at forgotten or lost art spaces, as well as the origins of some popular ones to discover the history of the spaces for art in Bombay/ Mumbai
Every year we lose out on cultural icons that have shaped the story of modern art in India. While Delhi is losing swathes of heritage to a ‘vista’, back in Mumbai along with the change in names of roads and stations, we’re also seeing the disappearance of institutions and places that shaped how we look at Indian Art. It was this need that led us to develop a special historical walk, Space(s) for Art, that combines our love of history and art, telling stories and having conversations about the birth of modern art in India.
It was a walk we had talked about, we’d marked locations and routes only to realise the logistics were unfeasible if not impossible. The enforced lockdown gave us the time to dig deeper and develop a walk that used technology, teleportation and time travel to tell the story of art from just before Indian Independence, right to the present. The Space(s) for Art walk looks at institutions like the JJ School of Art and how its curriculum and objectives shaped and continues to shape the artists that graduate or interact with it. The Bombay Art Society might have begun as a space for Memsahibs to showcase their new world watercolours, gone on to include early students of the JJ School, but in its current avatar in Bandra, it is a space that has untapped potential. We also look at how lost spaces like the Bhulabhai Desai Institute at Breach Candy (closed in the 1950’s), or the Artists Centre which closed in 2019, shaped modern India’s cultural landscape and yet very little is known (that too is heavily debated) about these crucial/landmark institutions.
Did you know that there’s a fabulous little-known collection of all the Indian modernists that was made during their lifetime? We’ve heard stories that the collector would pick it up while the paint was still wet. Or that WWII had a lasting impact on a tobacco heir’s future, or that he started a company based on a chance meeting at Juhu beach? Would you believe that there were more than 6 members of the first modernist art group in Mumbai and their first exhibition was in Vadodara.
We want to tell these stories and more, delve into snippets of anecdotes and discover why the narrative has left out key players, especially women. The stories are told, in books, in articles, in memoirs, or are languishing in store rooms without adding to the understanding of this period. Our aim is to have this information open to the public, make the citizens of this metropolitan city aware of hidden gems nestled behind tall walls and new constructions.
To join us on our next walk check out our Upcoming Walks page. We also conduct private walks, themed or customised for groups, you can get in touch on our Collaborate page. As always, stay safe and go see art!
Alisha & Nishita