Art Districts

Ukkadam Art District

Ukkadam, Coimbatore


‘Ukkadam’ in Coimbatore is a Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board colony which today is home to people rehabilitated from slum areas across the city. The colony’s pedestrian-friendly architecture and its unique context allowed us to set the base for the country’s sixth open-air, public art district starting on 4 of its facades. Five artists - four national and one international, worked over 20 days in the month of March 2020 to create foundational pieces for this street art gallery.

Artworks in the process of completion

Architecturally, Ukkadam is made up of multi-storied apartments, all of which bear wide expansive facades, while its streets are pedestrian-friendly and conducive of on-foot commuting. Additionally, the area’s bustling micro economy - made up of a variety of markets hosted on different days and dedicated to selling different kinds of wares, is sustained by a huge footfall of residents from all over the city. A combination of these factors allowed us to zero in on the locality as the site for the nation’s sixth art district.

Amitabh Reveals Ukkadam Art Dist St Art Kovai 2020 Jeswin Rebello
'Trees of Where’ by Amitabh Kumar: Migratory birds are an integral part of the ecosystem of Coimbatore lakes and fly around the world inhabiting temporary shelters. In a site that becomes home to a similar community of dwellers, a collective that has been living in temporary shelters and makeshift spaces, this idea of home becomes permanent. Amitabh Kumar’s ‘Trees of Where’ references both the ecological and sociological composition of Coimbatore’s Ukkadam and represents it as a mural. His ‘migratory bird - trees’ represent the moment a community has found its home, and home is where you can lay your roots.

Building on the foundational concept of an ‘art district’ - premised on an open-air public art gallery model, the Ukkadam Art District allowed artists to interpret Kovai’s distinct characteristics individually and represent them visually. Everything from Kovai’s birds to its cinema, and its traditions to the intimate habits of the inhabitants of Ukkadam found visual articulation in the artists’ pieces.

The curation (of both artists as well as artworks) sought to establish a different perception of neighborhood, making it a space for imagination and discursive dialogues to bloom.