No one would ever claim that Delhi’s getting smaller. Except, perhaps, those traveling by metro, who have discovered that Gurgaon and Noida suddenly seem a lot closer than they used to be. “The Metro connects people - it has helped make Delhi a smaller place,” felt Chaitalee Abrol and Nayanika Chatterjee, two schoolchildren who’ve created artwork to express what they feel about the Metro and its contributions to the city.
Journeys - India includes 12 artworks by Delhi students between the age of 10 and 16 years. The exhibition, which opened on January 20, will be up at the Pragati Maidan Metro station till the 23rd of this month. As many as 18 students from Blue Bells School and Deepalaya in Govindpuri trained with Delhi-based artist Kanak Shashi for one-and-a-half weeks in November to develop the posters that will now become part of the permanent collections of Delhi Metro Museum and London Transport Museum. “We wanted the students to consider the role that public transport plays in shaping the identity of a city. The idea was to document the experiences of the young people,” says Michelle Brown, curator at the London Transport Museum, who set up the collaboration with DMRC and the project.
The children have responded differently. Ibtisam and Dhoopchhaya Sarkar write: “Before riding on the Metro,Ihad never seen Delhi from above – it is really nice. You can make a whole story out of it.” They’ve drawn the inside of a Metro and a monument visible through the window. For some, this is a symbolof egalitarianism –it serves everyone. Ajitav Guha and Rajatdeep Singh write, “Delhi Metro serves everyone – all different kinds of people, from the common man to the Prime Minister.”
In London, they’ll be displayed with works related to the London Metro. “Delhi’s is one of the newest metro systems; the London one is one of the oldest. It would be interesting to put the new with the old,” says Brown.
In the classes, children were taught how to combine traditional Indian forms with more modern ones. The paintings are brightly coloured, have broad strokes and bold lines as well as intricate patterns like in a m e - h e n d i design. The Pragati Maidan Metro station was the station of choice because of its proximity to the venue for the India Art Summit.