Three Mumbai-based artists –  Jerry Antony, Nisha Nair Gupta, and Meera Goradia – worked with local residents in Govandi, Mumbai, on-site for over three months to create contextual, site-specific art. They are part of the Govandi Arts Festival‘s Artist Residency Programme, conceptualised to give creative expression to the stories, aspirations and lives of communities living in marginalised neighbourhoods.

The Festival is being spearheaded by Community Design Agency (CDA) in India along with Lamplighter Arts CIC (UK) and Streets Reimagined (UK). It will culminate in an exhibition from February 15th to 19th, 2023, featuring an array of events, including the work of the resident artists.

Photo credit: Community Design Agency

While Jerry’s focus is to explore the emotional and interpersonal relationships within the community through animation and storytelling, Nisha’s residency project maps the people of a neighbourhood and brings forth their stories of belonging and becoming, thereby building a repository of stories for the community. Having worked with artisanal sectors across India since 1989,   Meera is facilitating a documentation team to discover the richness of handwork in Govandi. Her goal is to create new learning and a sense of value for traditional practices, which she believes are essential for conserving the native intelligence and identity of India.

Commenting on the programme, Sandhya Naidu, founder and managing director of Community Design Agency, said, ‘The artist residency programme will help showcase the richness and diversity of the talent and stories that thrive in Govandi and create a sense of belonging and pride in the community. For us, the festival is not just an event, but a step towards empowering and celebrating the people of Govandi through the power of art and storytelling.’

The Govandi Art Festival has a robust arts-based framework focused on building and showcasing the skills/talents of spatially/culturally marginalised communities through inclusive processes. The festival has two overarching goals: to provide residents, especially the youth, with access to artistic mentorship and a public platform to express themselves joyfully, without minimising their lived experiences;   and to use art as a gateway for those outside the neighbourhood to understand its human joys and complexities, free of any entrenched stigma and judgement.