As the world came to a halt last March, we were all forced to live our lives contained in our houses. With no sense of escape, most of us faced restlessness, hopelessness, anxiety, uncertainty and irritability with not enough space to let it out. Yet, there were others, like the frontline workers who were forced to risk their lives on a daily basis for the sake of community and our larger well being. The COVID-19 pandemic was definitely a mixed bag and did not deal its cards fairly but it had a positive to it as well, it brought a sense of community to the forefront.
It was within this context that The Corona Quilt Project, an initiative in collaboration with Bombay Shirt Company was born as a way to connect people, discuss self-expression and mental health, and bring communities together. Thought out during the pandemic, the project aims to bring forth diverse perspectives of a year spent in lockdown in the form of small square patches that are converted into site-specific installations, scattered throughout the city.
It uses the age-old technique of quilting and gives it a modern twist where small square patches become windows into people’s world of self-expression. Each square patch is made up of unique materials ranging from repurposed fabric and gunny bags to tablecloths and paper collages. Even interactive virtual square making sessions were conducted being mindful of the restrictions posed by the lockdown. There were many cross border submissions as well with each square patch an expression of an individual’s personal journey.
The Corona Quilt Project presents a diversity of experiences – it celebrates the strength and the resilience of a people. The squares explore themes centring around the home, safety, nature, the environments in which they exist, and the pandemic – each made through unique forms of mixed media and materials.
“This movement has connected people of different ages from different cities and countries – echoing the belief that we have all endured this crisis together, no matter our age, gender, occupation or nationality. The presentations are meant to help us move forward, heal and be reborn. The location on the Worli-Peddar road junction is especially exciting. The locations connect high-traffic areas in Mumbai allowing us to bring this to the public and make this presentation highly visible.”— — Neha Modi, Co-Founder of the project
The year-long programme that started in June 2020 will be culminating in the form of five separate installations, starting March. Three of the installations are already up, Rise by Mumbai-Hyderabad based artist, Dia Mehhta Bhupal kickstarted the installations.
The first in the series was A Rising Sun which wraps around the facade of the building with 1,339 individual stories and draws a parallel from the landscape of Mumbai with the sun rising along the coastline. It plays on the dichotomy of darkness and light and how it is darkest before dawn – how a new sunrise is metaphoric of new opportunities, new hope and a dream to reimagine a better tomorrow.
Bhupal’s installations incorporates a transformative and uplifting journey that symbolically fuses together natural elements such as the sun, the ocean, butterflies, along with portraits of the frontline workforce who have led the fight against the pandemic. The artist’s intent is to present the full range of depth, diversity and ingenuity of the squares collected.
Another installation on the Haji Ali Pumping Station honours the frontline workers. Warriors Rise is a montage of portraits, it depicts a pumping heart, a symbol of all the workers who were at the frontline during the pandemic. It features individual portraits of doctors, nurses, the police force and members of the Bombay Municipality Community (BMC), who were the core strength and support during the pandemic.
The third installation, On the Rise on the Worli Seaface, weaves over 5000 individual narratives in the form of a butterfly which is a symbol of transformation, evolution, resurrection, and metamorphosis that all of us have been through during the lockdown which has given us a new perspective.
“My presentations have been inspired by children’s drawings and their inner innocence. Rise draws continuities and solidarities between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now. The concepts chosen embody our current reality and consequences of the pandemic. It’s truly humbling to have the opportunity to work on the individual stories that connect and collectively empower the community.”— — Dia Mehhta Bhupal
A true embodiment of community, the project saw over 12,000 people coming together from different walks of life, be it children, elderly people, actors, or artists to splash the colour of their creativity and expression and lend the city a new vibrant life. As we at Homegrown have often discussed, urban spaces need to be reimagined and incorporate ways of involving the community – they need to become havens of identity and expression and The Corona Quilt Project was one such initiative.
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