Out of water, on the wall: Lodhi Colony’s latest mural breaks travel boundaries
The mural titled 'Fish Out of Water' is a collaboration between Aashti Miller, India-based architect and illustrator, and Germany's Greta von Richthofen, who works on documentary narratives and graphic novels.
To the 60 murals of Delhi’s Lodhi art district is a new addition – a menagerie of some unlikely yet lively creatures, including an owl on roller blades, a fish with wings, a flamingo on a bicycle and a whale floating in the air.
The idea is simple, when you have the power of imagination nothing can stop you from travelling the world, or a fantastical world such as the one painted on the wall. And why should a fish not be allowed to fly or an owl be allowed to skate?
As the painter-duo of the mural said, “It is a truly democratic way to travel through your imagination.”
Imagined, designed, sketched, and painted by two young women artists, Aashti Miller and Greta von Richthofen, the latest mural in Lodhi Colony is an ode to travelling without boundaries.
Stuck inside their respective homes in India and Germany during the lockdown, the two artists, who have grown to call themselves "fellow travellers," were brought together by Mumbai-based St+art India Foundation and Goethe Institute as part of the latter’s ‘Graphic Travelogues’ project. It seeks “to capture, document, explore, and encourage interactions between artists, while presenting their work in a public and safe space”.
Stretched across a wall 100 feet wide and 35 feet tall, the brightly-coloured mural, titled 'Fish Out of Water,' is an eyecatcher to say the least. A pause and ponder, of course, reveals the painting in greater details than previously visible to the eye.
The two artists revealed that the painting involves elements that are native to their respective countries. The roller skating owl, for instance, is an Indian breed, while Blaumeise and Eichelhäer birds, native to Germany, can also be seen in the mural.
The collaboration between Miller, who is an architect and illustrator by profession, and Richthofen, who works on documentary narratives and graphic novels, was not the most natural one, at least in the beginning.
Coming from different worlds and having grown in different cultures, it was natural for the two artists to have different creative approaches.
However, communication was the key as the collaborators became friends over their shared creative journey. “We had a lot of discussions, Zoom calls as we shared ideas, and planned our design. But even with all the planning, we were still making changes while painting. A lot of changes were made on the fly,” Richthofen said.
Were there no disagreements? “All the disagreements were in the form of suggestions, and we both appreciated it,” the German illustrator said.
The first few sketches that Miller and Richthofen sent to each other were those of fish, "flying and doing fantastical things." It was then collectively decided that no matter what the final design turns out to be, they are keeping the fish. The fish was kept.
Once finalised, the design was projected on the wall, and painted by Miller and Richthofen in 11 days, with assistance from Mumbai-born artist Mahesh Kamble, who helped the two painters negotiate some stretches of the giant artwork.
The mural also depicts two hands on both sides of the great arched doorway of Block 6 of Lodhi Colony, holding a pencil which is then held up by a bunch of balloons.
The mural in Delhi only makes half the part of the Graphic Travelogue project in India, the second half will be painted in Chennai, showcasing the “head” of the painting, Miller clarified. The design for which has been completed, they said.
The brightly-coloured mural has added another point of attraction for photography and art enthusiasts who can be seen every day at any given hour in the streets of Lodhi Colony. “Being in a public space, we hope it will be liked by all,” the artists said.
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