Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life: Pablo Picasso
Few weeks ago, the bare walls of the Sikanderpur Community Library, were awaiting a fresh coat of distemper – Alabaster white or probably a pale Vanilla yellow. A fairly routine affair of scraping the cracked, flaking and peeling bits, followed by new primer and paint by the hardware-store handymen.
Thanks however to an initiative by the unassuming Shubha Bahl, who manages the library, and a bunch of enthusiastic moms from Gurugram, the walls today have instead come alive with an explosion of colors that weaves together a beautiful dream for the little children who come over to browse books daily. And the kids are over the moon!
“The idea took shape sometime last year,” reminisces Shubha, “when Veena Padmanabhan and a few regular volunteers were thinking of ways to make our library a happy place for those who flock here from neighbouring Phase 1, Chakkarpur, Sushant Lok, Sector 42, Sikanderpur and Nathupur. Taking a cue from the vibrant books lining our shelves we thought why not paint our dull walls in attractive shades of yellow, red, orange and pink
One thing led to another, word spread around and soon a few Gurgaon moms – Manavi Chakravarthy, Nidhi Kant, Deeksha Jashnani Bajaj, Richa Khanna Karanwal and Priti Kashyap Anand came forward and took up Project Wall Painting in earnest. Gond, Warli, traditional Gujarati folk art and modern painting techniques were discussed in detail over innumerable cups of chai and chikki. “Once we had our art work in place with chart paper stencils of animals, birds, flowers, children, butterflies, the sun & moon, we immediately got to work,” outlines Manavi, an artist by profession, as she mixes various shades of green – olive, viridian, sap and chrome – on her palette to get the perfect shade for the undulating vale taking shape on the library wall.
Six-year-old Kajal and 8-year old Sapna who live right across the road are mesmerized by the transformation. “Kitna sundar lag raha hai,” they squeal in delight, clutching their favorite Pratham picture books in hand. Their twinkling eyes see a fairy tale unfold on the walls of their very own beloved library. The ultramarine sky with its cadmium orange sun on the right provides a striking contrast to the deep Prussian blue sky and its crescent moon on the left. Below it all, a little girl in a lemon and rose dress is lost in her book amid flowers and butterflies in a riot of colours.
For brothers Ajay and Vijay, it’s a dream come true, just looking at the wall and the kites floating free. “Bahut mazza aa raha hai,” they smile in unison, along with their friends Alam, Tanmay Dhruv, Divya Multazim, Laxmi, Kiran, Pooja and Vivek.
These are kids who could not even recognize alphabets a few months ago. “With a secure environment conducive to happiness and learning, they can now read small picture books with ease,” says Shubha with evident pride, thrilled with the beautiful wall painting that has enhanced the appeal of her library manifold.
Life, it is said, is all about using the whole box of colors, and the moms behind Project Wall Painting are tickled pink!