The International Museum Day is annually held on May 18th but the Jaya He GVK New Museum authorities planned to celebrate the entire week from May 15th to 19th as the International Museum Week at their beautiful space at the Mumbai International Airport popular as the T2 Terminal. There were workshops, musicial performances and on site discussions with some of the artists whose artworks are on display at the Museum. A well thought out decision as more people could appreciate the story of the Museum collection at the Airport Terminal, spread over nearly 1lakh sq ft space.
I have already written about the Museum in a previous post so I will not repeat myself. On reading that post both Rekha Nair, Head, and Shrutika Jain, Assistant Manager, Jaya He Museum, inquired if I would like to conduct a workshop with a group of people of my choice, not necessarily passengers. With a proposal as irresistible as that, especially as it was to be part of the Museum Week celebrations, how could I ever refuse? I jumped at it and spoke to the NGO Hamaara Sapna authorities and they readily agreed to send some of their members from both the Dharavi and Tardeo centres.
Yesterday, 19th May, a small group arrived at 10:30am at the T2 Terminal! Most of them had never dreamt of ever visiting any Airport! In an earlier workshop with them I had mentioned that they should try to visit the Airport Terminal to see the scale of nature inspired design – the white peacock has inspired the entire building – and there they were…all dressed up and smiling 🙂
If you have had an opportunity to travel through the T2 Terminal of Mumbai Airport you might have had a fleeting glance of some of the Gond, Terracotta, Appliqué, Mud, Metal based artworks, each carefully collected or created by some of the best artists and crafts communities of India. These have been curated to represent India to Indians who have been taking too many things for granted for a long time, and sadly forgotten to value their own culture and heritage. The Hamaara Sapna group were quick to grasp the value of the moments spent there and made several Seflie stops with ample scenic backgrounds 🙂
Shrutika welcomed the group at the Airport entrance, guided everyone around the security checks and escalators, first for some, and explained about the Museum and artworks. She introduced the concept of the Museum, an unique exhibition space at such a busy Terminal, and the process of collection, curation and creation. The tour and workshop were planned for 2 to 2.5 hours, ending with a hands-on activity. We decided to concentrate on a small part of the Airport since most of the Hamaara Sapna members were too awestruck to move at a steady pace – but we were in no hurry 🙂
After watching flights land and take off, first time for all of the members, we finally reached the Water and Sound Installation made by Abhay! What a fascinating installation, there was so much excitement and joy around it. Even in my previous visit with the ISDI students there had been much fun with the installation. Unlike most public places that display art in India, the Jaya He authorities encourage visitors and passengers to actively interact with some of their installations. No one came running to rudely bark at you “Don’t Touch”!
The workshop idea was simple: give creative expression of your innermost feelings after the tour of the Airport, the first such experience, bombardment of colours, the beauty and exuberance of the entire space, the creativity of the crafts, the scale, the modernity and cleanliness, the smooth surfaces and textures, whatever appealed to them. Was there something that they would like to carry back to their families, new memories made and old ones revived, some bonds forged for the future, relationships and dreams? When I mentioned this idea, the spontaneous reply from everyone was that it was as if they were living a dream, this couldn’t be happening to them. And, dreams and memories of this kind are always worth sharing so they eagerly took to the idea.
With shyness, excitement, happiness and lots of colour and paper provided by Shrutika and Ivan, the members got down to express. There were giggles, jokes, contemplation and concentration. Prashant, Shantatai’s 19 year college going son couldn’t get over the landing and taking off preparations for flights. How the air-bridge opened and closed, how the carts and lots of people rushed towards a plane and how the wheels and wings were controlled on the runway – this was a whole new world for him. He hadn’t realised the size of a plane till he saw one from within the Airport. He translated his well structured thoughts on paper. Hardly anyone has the time to pause, look around and engage with their surroundings, there is just a mad rush to reach somewhere, anywhere. Wish more travellers could pause and wonder like him!
Shantatai, Prashant’s mother, had been married at the age of 10, a good student but withdrawn from school as she wasn’t allowed to be more educated than her husband, she had represented her school at Kho-Kho but once she was out of school she knew no other life than domesticity. She was amazed that 500 kilos of ‘gobar’ (cowdung) were used to create a large exhibit by the Warli artists at the Airport, she turned to me and said “but I used to work with ‘gobar’ in the village” and that’s exactly what she drew – her village and the cooking hearth of her childhood memories. That was exactly the purpose of the workshop – to connect!!!
There were some mother and child bonding moments, Kartik and his mischievousness kept us all in splits. He was jumping all over the Airport, trying to run backwards on the moving walkway and attempting to dive into the planes through the glass! His mother was alternating between laughter and chiding. Kartik definitely would have a lot to chat about for many years at his home at Dharavi.
Before we bid adieu to the lovely team at the Airport, exceeding the workshop time by more than an hour, Shrutika gave us all chocolates and lots of smiles.
Many thanks to Rekha, Shrutika and the entire Jaya He GVK New Museum team, the helpful airport and security staff of T2 Terminal who were so kind, cooperative and non judgemental of the members.
Ms Minal and Sheetal Bajaj for creating Hamaara Sapna and making this trip possible. Mrunal and Priti for the constant support. Mrunal, your enthusiasm made this tour and workshop possible.
These smiles and poetry say a lot about the workshop and the International Museum Week celebrations. Yes Jaya He GVK New Museum, you successfully made us Engage, Explore and Experience a whole new paradigm of colour, laughter, beauty away from chaos, stress, domestic violence and abuse of daily survival. THANK YOU.
All pics are by the author.