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Design buffs, here’s what you will love at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

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We’ve scoured the #KGAF20 schedule for some of the most promising events this year

It’s that time of the year again when the hippest corner of South Mumbai will be a flurry of activity and colour. What started out as a small initiative that dabbled in music, literature and art right on the pavements at Rampart Row, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is now one of Mumbai’s most popular art events. In its 20th edition this year (hence #KGAF20), the festival has managed to bring art out of galleries and private spaces. As festival coordinator Nicole Mody puts it, “Twenty years ago the idea of making art accessible to everyone in a public space didn’t exist. The festival has managed to scrub out the stiff exclusivity that surrounds art and really opened it up to everyone.”

This year there are fourteen categories that include everything from visual and performing arts, heritage walks, workshops, moderated discussions on urban design and architecture, comedy, food and of course, shopping. Here’s what you can explore at the festival:

Take in the visual feast
The visual arts theme this year centres on ‘A Measure of Time’, which will look over the last 20 years of the festival. Mody says, “Check out Pooja Bansal who is working with a group called Arya Kala. Their display will consist of 20 frames depicting the last two decades of Kala Ghoda."

Get up close and personal with the naval artefacts display by the Maritime History Society titled Peals of Time. Ships employ bells to measure time and a whole collection of these grand timekeepers will be at KGAF.  

There is also some city-specific art you shouldn’t miss. Mumbai journalist Rachel Lopez, a first-time exhibitor, has a series titled Kaali Peeli @KalaGhoda about taxi ceiling art. What started out as a personal documentation has now led to her curating a full collection of Mumbai taxi ceiling designs. “Here is a gallery of art in this city that we’ve all completely missed. It is possible to take so many taxi cabs in Mumbai and not run out of new designs,” says Lopez. Her installation exhibits almost 300 of the 400 plus images she has accumulated.

Listen to a few expert discussions
This year the festival explores all the ways we present, talk and write about architecture in the context of cities. Get in on the discussion as co-founder of the publishing house Yoda Press Arpita Das moderates two panels. The first will focus on journalists who have full length books on cities, such as Naresh Fernandes, Indrajit Hazra and Venkatachelapathy, while the second will bring up how creative writing on cities has evolved over the years.

Another session to catch is by co-authors of the book SAHAJ: Vernacular Furniture of Gujarat - Jai Thakkar and Samrudha Dixit. As people who have devoted a great deal of time to this work of immersive research, the talk will centre around the documentation of about 2,000 furniture pieces that range in age from the 1900’s to present.

Learn a new skill
With over two decades in the world of design, interior designer, Riyaz Himany is perfectly suited to showing us easy ways of making any space vibrant and inviting through his workshop Magic Wand at the BNHS Auditorium. But colour us happy for Colours to Dye for by Suvarnareha M Jadhav. Promoting the idea of sustainable living, this workshop at the Artists Centre will teach techniques on using natural dyes and household and organic waste to dye fabrics at home.

Shop for decor
Then and Now is a sustainable art project that works with Gond and Bhil Tribal artists from central India, Pattachitra from Odisha, Mithila and Sikki folk artists from Madhubani, Sanjhi craftsmen from Mathura along with toy makers from Benaras to name a few. All their products are Craftmark Certified and hand painted.

If you’re interested in one of a kind furniture, then also check out Mianzi. They will bring to KAGF an entire range of ready to assemble bamboo furniture and accessories. To buy fun products for kids head to Design Nonstop. Snehal Joshi, co-founder of this Nashik-based brand, will showcase several quirky products including a DIY lampshade that puts drawing, building and storytelling into one kit.

The festival is running from February 2 to 10 in Mumbai. Find more information here

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