Kannagi Nagar in Chennai Is Now Vibrant With Colour, Faces & Life
Kannagi Nagar, a colony built by the Tamil Nadu government as a resettlement area, is often associated with crime, ghost corridors and resentment. The area has now, however, been given a facelift.
In an initiative by St+art India Foundation and Asian Paints, in collaboration with the Greater Chennai Corporation, an art district has been created in the area.
10 national artists, including five from Chennai and five international ones and St+art Chennai 2020 worked on multiple murals to make the area appealing while staying true to the essence of the people.
Over the last few days, several workshops and curated tours were conducted in the neighbourhood.
Kannagi Nagar is home to more than 80,000 people living in 24000+ households. These people were rehabilitated from Cuoom, Adyar and the Buckingham Canal river beds.
This was part of the state’s government’s initiative to provide standard accommodation to those residing on the beach and in slums to restore the waterways and clear slums across the city.
However, the people have always had an issue with the colony being situated outside the main city as many of them work as contractors, daily-wage labourers or domestic help. The commute from their workplace to the residence is too long and also costs a lot. This has been a reason why many of them have chosen against moving into the colony even years after it has been built.
Many had even complained that colony looks ‘very dingy’ that it ‘doesn’t feel homely’.
The central theme of the murals is ‘People and Environment’, based on the people’s livelihood and the idea of migration.
The murals are the work of Sanskar Sawant from Mumbai, Kashmira Sarode from Bengaluru, Osheen Siva, Do from New Delhi, A-Kill, SS108, Chennai Art Lab Crew, Chennai Jcvaz, Chennai One Stroke from from Chennai. Other international artists who were part of the makeover are Nevercrew from Switzerland, Helvetia David Leitner from Austria, Antonyo Marest from Spain, Ben Johnston from Canada and Bronte Naylor from Australia.
A-Kill of the T3K graffiti team based in Chennai said painting this mural was an absolute surprise as the mural metamorphosed based on what the kids around felt.
“We asked kids and they were so hyped and they helped us spot the location. And that inspired me to draw the kids as they were the true spirit of the place. Long back, I had taken a picture in Nochi Kuppam of two sisters smiling and I decided play around with realism,” he said.
“When I started off, I took this technique of transferring of the picture to the wall using the lazy-grid technique. While we were working, a little girl came up to me and asked us to write her name. And soon all the kids came and wanted their names on the walls. People were wondering why we were scribbling names and there were mixed emotions among the crowd.”A-Kill, Artist, T3K Graffiti, Chennai
A-Kill laughed and said, “Rumours were rife that the ones we were painting were actually younger versions of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. I believe for locals here, a mural can be either of a politician or a film star.”
“We hope that through our work, the neighbourhood can become an area of interest for the city while becoming more vibrant for its inhabitants. Continuing our efforts to spread art for all, we are stoked to start another open air art museum and foster public art as a great tool to generate value for the city and its citizens,” said Arjun Bahl, director and co-founder of St+art India Foundation, in a statement.
A special ‘community showcase’ took place on 29 February to put on display the artwork made during the activities done and workshops held in the neighbourhood.