Chennai artists await approval for art walls across city

A 500-metre artistic panel by Tamil Nadu Artists Association will feature Tirukkurral’s sayings, if the project gets approved by the Chennai Corporation.

Published: 12th June 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2022 07:22 PM   |  A+A-

An art panel at a Chennai landmark.

Feathering, flaking and filling are all in a day’s work for the 4,000 creative souls of the Tamil Nadu Artists Association in Chennai. They are in the process of creating a magnificent artistic panel for the city this year if the project gets approved by the Chennai Corporation. 

It promises to be a 500-metre long masterpiece that features the wise sayings from Tirukkural by revered poet Thiruvalluvar, considering how much Tamils love reading his words of wisdom, even in the Chennai Metro. 

After all, Tirukkural is a 5th century classic Tamil-language text comprising 1,330 short couplets, or kurals, of seven words each. The idea for the subway came from the Association. There are plans too for a 2-km culture wall around the Raj Bhavan. The Governor’s office is an imposing structure on the way to the Madras International Meenambakkam Airport, JPK Vijay, spokesperson of the Association, states excitedly, “We are on the cusp of presenting Chennai and Tamil Nadu culture to the world. We need to go big or go home.” The works are part of Singara Chennai 2.0, a city beautification project taken up by the Chennai Corporation in 2021. 

Artwork created for Singara Chennai 2.0

As hundreds of Tamil local artisans choose colours and draw sketches in the humid summer months of Chennai, Vijay is confident that they will change the face of the city. Their vision is to put the best art 
forward in every column inch of public space in Chennai, he says. 

The artists will paint only what is not found on Google. Mylapore in Chennai is an affluent, conservative neighbourhood teeming with temples, music academies and eateries. “Mylapore’s coffee is world-famous. However, putting a painting of a steaming cup of filter kaapi in a ‘steel dabba and tumbler’ is cliched. We want citizens to feel connected to the city, get nostalgic, and remember their childhood days when the coffee bean was roasted in the 1900s. We want our artisans to dip into the memories of their grandparents and recreate them. Authenticity is the key, not a cut-paste job from Google Images,” he laughs. 

The Association is awaiting approvals from the corporation officials. While hoping for work to start in a month or two, the artists want corporates to sponsor public art projects. Instead of the municipal corporation taking up such work based on government tender. 

They think the departments of tourism, art and culture must join hands and funds to create stunning public art pieces across the city. “We should pull out all stops to celebrate the Mega Metropolis called Chennai. Singara Chennai 2.0 has to level up in 2022,” they hope. Wall-to-Wall art is Chennai’s next big idea.

The artistic panels that are being painted by over 4,000 artisans, are part of Singara Chennai 2.0, a city beautification project taken up by the Chennai Corporation in 2021.


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