TheEye has has been to Mumbai many times over many years and each visit finds new surprises and new areas to discover. This is a fascinating addictive city. Also a beautiful city – the architecture, the popular Maidan cricket ground where seriously cricket mad Indians of all ages spend their leisure time batting and bowling. The sea front, train station and Tiffin vendors on their bicycles.
And of course …
THE JEWEL. THE GATEWAY TO INDIA .
As symbolic and nostalgic as the Statue of Liberty is to America.
India (in common with New York) is not for everyone – but for TheEye it’s a love affair.
Artist Howard Hodgkin is another India lover, where he spends several months of the year. It has been a strong influence on his work and his collection of Indian miniatures is one of the finest in the world. It was a thrill to see a retrospective of his work in the Jehangir Nicholson Wing of the former Prince of Wales Museum. It included 12 beautiful recently re-discovered gouaches on hand made paper.
DHARAVI SLUM BIENNALE
TheEye has always resisted organised slum tours on principle. A sanitised, somewhat patronising ‘armchair view’ from a comfortable distance to make tourists feel they deserve a pat on the back, but not much help for those having to deal from birth to death with surviving appalling conditions?
The Biennale, conceived by textile artist Susie Vickery, funded by the enterprising Wellcome Trust, focused on two main issues.
Violence against women (horribly prevalent) and the threat of uncontrolled waste affecting the quality of life in the real sense. Re-cycling has turned into a design cliche. Every design student’s mantra. For these slum dwellers waste is their enemy – harmful , poisonous and destructive to their environment.
With proper funding courtesy of The Wellcome Trust and passionate support from artists (particularly Susie Vickery), those living in Dharavi have been able to bring these issues to life and make them noticed.
Scheduled to open in 2017 things aren’t looking optimistic for this lovely little opera house. Already predictable squabbling has started between conservative, non progressives who are opposed to Western music and singing and the vocal minority in favour. Meanwhile work has stopped, a huge pity.