Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Mail Today, New Delhi September19th, 2008 page 23

Bangalore's oasis of free meals and art

by Max Martin

No. 1 Shanthi Road in Bangalore is like a Mughal miniature on a hologram. Many things go on at its corners and it can change colours like a chameleon.

A lot of artists use it as a hop- in studio, a space to display their paintings, installations and to screen films. Some stay on while on tour. Not to mention the addas over coffee or the customary free lunch.

There is even a ' Meals Ready' sign on the kitchen wall.

It is a roadside place that at first looks like any other neat pile of concrete off Bangalore's arterial Double Road. Get in and climb the ' monumentalised' staircase and you begin to get this feeling of getting away from it all. The front courtyard on the first floor is under the canopy of a huge almond tree.

With the tree as the starting point, architect Meeta Jain built this space on the terrace of visual artist Suresh Jayaram's parent's house in 2003. It is still morphing.

She wanted this place to reflect Jayaram's personality, a young former principal of the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath art school here.

Jayaram is the kind of person you can buttonhole in the middle of nowhere and start talking about art trends or what his mother thinks about him. " He's an oasis," says Jain. So she built one for him.

The initial project had two open courtyards, a studio and a living space with kitchen. Recently, Jayaram added two more separate living spaces. It is somewhat like clustering a set of boxes with empty spaces. But the place gives a sense of surprise at each level. It has five different types of staircases, for instance.

An ongoing exchange programme with Sri Lankan and Pakistani artists organised by Khoj — an artists' working group – will bring a lot of buzz here.

Abhiram Poduval, a budding art historian from Baroda art school and Khoj associate, came to 1 Shanti Road this week to be trained as a curator. He instantly liked the place as it has no definition.

He is looking at possibilities like showing more films.

Jayaram's former student Sandhya A has some plans too. Maybe a restaurant... Jayaram is game. " I don't want to make it an institution," he says.


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