Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dharavi Art Room

- by Deepa Krishnan

I went to Bandra yesterday to see an exhibition of photographs clicked by children in Dharavi.

I confess I did not expect much. But I was blown away by what I saw.
The first thing I realised is that this is a very different sort of story-telling: it is an inside and intensely personal viewpoint, rather than an outsider's temporary peek into Dharavi (which is what you usually see in the press). 

The second thing I realised is that the photos themselves set a high aesthetic standard. Meaning, it is not a bleeding heart exhibit where you put up with poor output simply because of the background of the artists. They don't have the slickness of professional photographers, yes, but they are very good.
Third, I couldn't help responding to the sheer emotion in the photos. They go straight to the heart of the subject. Perhaps this kind of directness can only come from children. There is innocence, grace, beauty and the sheer magic of childhood shining through the photos. Collectively, the photos provide a unique insight into daily life and community as seen through young eyes. My phone camera really doesn't do justice to them, so go take a look yourselves and see if you agree with me.
The exhibition also had other things that were produced by the kids, like the charming Meow Book, which has colourful illustrations of cats with lots of stuff about the secret lives of cats :) There was another beautiful book wiith personal stories of women. There were postcards, notebooks, and so on. Those were high quality as well.
The exhibition was organised by Dharavi Art Room, which provides a space for the children of Dharavi to express themselves and explore issues through art. Recently, they've started working with women as well, teaching photography.

I spoke to Himanshu who founded The Dharavi Art Room 8 years ago, and to Akki, who joined a year ago. They're passionate about what they do - and what's more, they bring excellence into it.

Recently, they've run into funding problems,  and lost their permanent space in Dharavi. I've offered to sponsor a new space for The Art Room, and am now actively looking for space in Dharavi.

They need lots of financial assistance as well. If you can help, let me know, I'll send you their budget.

More updates soon on my space hunt in Dharavi.

Meanwhile: how to get to the current exhibition:
The Hive, 50 - A, Huma Mansion, Opposite Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village Rd, Khar West, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India 400050. They will be there all of this week.


Akshay Anaokar said...

Hi Deepa,

Please let me know on how can I assist in contributing financially or even in any other way for setting this up. You are doing a fantastic job.
My e-mail id is Please send me the details and I'll help with whatever little I can to get this going.
Akshay Anaokar

Anonymous said...

Hi Deepa,
My name is Vaishali Kakkad. My email id is
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help the Dharavi Art Room at this time.