Art Districts

Kovai Art Trail



For the first time in Kovai, in 2018 we began the creation of a walkable art trail on the city’s Government Art College Road. Four artists - three national and one international, worked on four different facades of the buildings of the Police Commissioner’s Office, Ex-Servicemen’s Building, Cancer Ward at CMC, and St Francis Anglo-Indian Girls School - standing in the vicinity of each other and forming a walkable trail.

Situated in an area that accommodates a high concentration of diverse pedestrians, the artists’ murals used the city’s, and the state’s, socio-cultural ecosystem and its changing nature for inspiration. For their respective pieces, artists drew inspiration both from Kovai’s history as well as its present.

The first mural in the trail was created by Shiv & Ranga, an artist duo from Hyderabad. Upon their arrival in the city during Dussehra, the duo sensed the city of Coimbatore as a melting pot of both tradition and modernity. Using this thought as a starting point, the artists painted a Thanjavur doll - something that has come to symbolise Tamil Nadu - wearing its traditional garb on a wall of the Police Commissioner’s Office. However, instead of greeting viewers with a mudra, the doll is depicted holding up a smartphone.

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Shiv & Ranga-நலமா

The second artwork for the trail, painted on a wall of the Ex-Servicemen’s Centre, was made by the artist collective Nasto Moha. The collective was founded by Abhik and Riji, who is originally from Kochi. For St+art Kovai, they painted a mural to form a delicate link between Tamilian tradition and folklore. Their artwork depicted a woman holding a plastic-wired koodai (basket) in one hand, and a Yali - a mythological creature that is prominently present in most temples across Tamil Nadu - in the other. The protagonist was shown wearing a kanjeevaram saree and adorned with temple jewellery, mostly worn by Bharatnatyam dancers.

Nasto Moha-Urvashi

The next artwork was painted by artist H11235 on the Cancer Ward at Coimbatore Medical College. Nepalese artist Kiran Maharjan, aka H11235, always looks for inspiration in elements of everyday life, nature and craftsmanship. For his mural in Kovai, he drew inspiration from the local history of the region and used it to render a photorealistic artwork in his signature style. Once a symbol of British colonialism and exploitation, the cash crop of cotton today enjoys a self-sustained industry in the city, with immense significance for its working class. H11235’s artwork featured a cotton-picker as its protagonist and also incorporated a calligraphic element that read 'Laud the Plough'.

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H11235- Cut on The title "cut on" also reads as how many people spell the word cotton and at the same time is referring to the idea of cutting from the colonisation and moving on with independent history.

The next piece in the art trail was made by the Hyderabad-based artist couple, Swathi & Vijay. Second, in their series of street art that questions social, political, and intellectual development, the piece was realised on a wall of the St Francis Anglo-Indian Girls School. Their work used typography to depict the word agriculture as ‘Agri-Culture’, acknowledging the growing divide between the urban city and its agrarian roots. The words ‘agri’ and ‘culture’ were shown split from each other, and a pin precariously holding both together, as a way to represent the diminishing link between the two.

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Swati Vijay-Agri-culture

By redefining the 75-foot District Library Office in the Town Hall region of the city into ‘The People’s Building’, the project under the St+art Kovai Festival gave the city of Coimbatore a renewed landmark. Taking over the entire facade of the library building, artists Poornima and Sadhna from the Aravani Art Project celebrated the city’s people, motifs and textile industries through their artwork.

During their interaction with people in the market, they were also enamoured by the spirit of the everyday dweller who would live each day to seize it completely. To give this form of livelihood an expression, Poornima and Sadhna painted the text ‘இ&' நமேத’ (Today Belongs To Us) on both sides of the building.

Poornima Saadha - ‘இ&' நமேத’ (Today Belongs To Us)

As part of the project, Poornima and Sadhna also collaborated with two local sign painters Liyakat Ali and KM Hussain to paint the text ‘மkக,& மா-ைக’ (People’s Building) on the shutters of the shops below the building. A tradition that is slowly disappearing due to the usage of flexes, St+art India recognises Hand-Painted Typography as a vital artistic and economic resource for local art ecosystems. This collaboration was conceptualised to reinforce the same and create a project that benefitted from comprehensive community participation.

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Poornima and Sadhna in collaboration with Liyakat Ali and K M Hussain- ‘மkக,& மா-ைக’ (People’s Building)

“One of the most beautiful ways to change the world is through celebrating local people and developing a sense of belonging and love towards the place they belong to. The People’s Building stands as a product of this vision.”

- Poornima, Aravani Art Project