A wall is a continuous vertical brick or stone structure that encloses or divides an area of land. A wall can be used to divide us, create a border, constrain us or in some cases to keep us from harms way. There are many famous walls, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the West Bank Barrier. In a more intimate level though they are all around us and many times we think nothing of them. For some people though, they view a wall as a blank canvas to be used as a conversation piece to express themselves and send out a message. It can be a positive message or one that will make you think twice about circumstances you may not have noticed before, but are happening all around you. This is often seen as Street Art and in many places is illegal and seen as an act of vandalism, but not on this wall.
In the heart of Mumbai, the most populous city in India lies a wall stretching 2.7km long from Mahim Metro stop to the Matunga Metro stop along the Tulsi pipe ride. It is a wall that separates the the train tracks from a pedestrian and vehicle street. It was the vision of Dhanya Pilo to transform this blank/gray wall into an open canvas for anyone to paint on without getting into trouble. She had her eyes on it for a long time, but never thought it would be possible to get the politicians to allow people to paint on it. That all changed in August of 2009 when she was granted permission to and over 400 people turned out to paint the walls. Since then the project has taken a life of it’s own with hundreds of pieces painted along the wall. The wall often referred to as “The Great Wall of Mumbai” is now a colorful canvas with messages of love, peace, dreams, change and lots of hope painted all over them.
It’s been over two years since I visited India and y’all know when I left I said I never wanted to go back. I had a love hate relationship with India and have realized just about everyone does. The funny thing is I have been dreaming of going back ever since I left. I don’t know how she does it, but she just draws you in for life. During my time there one of my highlights was the week I spent in Mumbai. I loved that I got to be a Bollywood Extra for a day, but I also loved Mumbai. Mumbai reminded me of a European metropolis, but on steroids with life bursting from every corner of the city. It was different from every previous city I had visited in India. During my week there one of the highlights was visiting the Wall Project, because of my love for street art and it did not fail me. I have been wanting to share my favorite photo from there since then, but never got around to it until now. I took over 250 photos of the art covering the 2.7km wall and of them these 35 are my favorite. As you scroll through them look at the detail and the message that is trying to be conveyed. Some of the messages are subtle and other not so much, but in the end these are all messages that people all over the world are struggling with. If you take the time to look at these you will realize we are all the same no matter what corner of the world we are from. I love all of these photos, but the last one is my favorite because it just hits you in the guts with a message of despair, poverty and inequality that moves you.
The color, the detail, the messages are all so powerful in more ways then one. It’s amazing what the vision of one can do. In this case it transformed a blank wall into a canvas with over a million words. The paintings are conversation starters for many social issues happening in Mumbai at the moment that are relatable to everyone across the world in one way or another. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Great Wall of Mumbai and the photographs I have shared above. Had you heard of this before? Do you know of any other cities that have done something similar to a wall in their city? You know my favorite… which one is yours?
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