Walking down old streets of Pune, it is not uncommon to view drab, lifeless buildings. While there are a few buildings that are ornate and rustic in their beauty, there are only a few that are bring across a pop of colour to these streets. Now, the colour palette on these streets is slowly expanding as artists Alefiya Kachwala and Annushka Hardikar, with their army of artists, change the streets of Bohri Aali in Raviwar Peth one shutter at a time.
Under the collective name of “A Fresh Coat”, these artists makeover shutters of old stores in the locality with gorgeous images that are inspired by the nature of the stores. The popular “Kings Paper” -also owned by Kachwala’s family- now flaunts a marvelous shutter with splashes of colour, with images of a scissor, palette and pencil, naturally emulating the energy of the store. They speak to the owner and understand their needs, then work back and forth to achieve the perfect design and finally get to work from sunrise to sunset on Sundays. Barring one or two shopkeepers, the rest in the area have been accommodating of the mission.
Inspired by her friend’s Instagram pictures of a trip to Spain, Kachwala was pondered about the lack of shutter art in the local neighbourhood and was motivated to change up some things herself. Their mission is to revive the grandeur of the Peths and make the place a lot more appealing to tourists that visit. They have now successfully conducted a makeover on 20 shutters.
If you follow their feed, you will see a noticeable amount of popular artists work with them, including names such as Aditi Mali (@goodbadcomics), a well-known comic artist on Instagram. They collaborate with a handful of artists, some reaching out to them and vice versa. “Basically it’s important to find the right artist for the right shutter. When we’re dealing with a hardware store, we have to have someone who has a perspective for it or someone who can visualise it better. We try to get the right artist for it, as Annushka mentioned. It is very important to get the right design and art combination”, said Kachwala talking about their collaboration with artists and how they ensure a mix of eye-catching artwork and utility on every shutter.
Kachwala is a student of Symbiosis College of Liberal Arts. “I don’t come from a design background like Annushka, but I think in my college experience with 4 years in Liberal Arts, I was exposed to art. And I had a lot of courses like “Introduction to art”, which was not design but understanding and appreciating art. We had courses to understand what art is all about, from the beginning and in India, so that’s how I got into it. I think that’s where it all started for me”, said Kachwala talking about her introduction to the artistic side and her evolution from a Liberal Arts student to an artist.
An illustration and graphic design graduate from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, Annushka brought the expertise into the project. “I was a part of a couple of street art courses, so I have travelled to paint massive murals and even worked with street artists from our visiting faculty. So that is what introduced me to what street art is all about and know how you can make a person interact with your art when it’s just out there for everyone. That was really interesting because we were painting in a chaotic space so it’s not like you can stand and observe the art for a long time, So, to find a way in which people would stay and take a minute to absorb it in, that was the challenge.”
The project is now entering phase 2, with their crowdfunding campaign and website launch upcoming soon. They are going to work towards being more active to raise awareness and include more artists- hopefully, some not local- to beautify the space. They would also like to pay more dues to the artists in this phase.