Last year, in June, a unique project came about to connect people from across geographies during the lockdown, Titled the Corona Quilt Project, it was part of a larger global initiative founded by Gina Kellogg, and was led in India by Neha Modi of the conscious clothing brand, Pause. The project aimed at connecting people, and to become a means for discussing mental health. People were encouraged to create virtual squares as a means for self-expression and send them to the team, which would then employ a modern take on quilting to create those designs. Each patch was then made of unique materials such as repurposed fabric, gunny bags, tablecloth and paper collages.
In the year since the project started, the team has received over 12,000 cross-border submissions from corporates, schools, not-for-profit organisations, artists and other individuals. The Corona Quilt Project has tried to capture the diversity of experiences during the pandemic and also the resilience of people in tough times. And now, the initiative has moved on to the next level by presenting an array of site-specific installations with these designs in Mumbai. These have been envisaged and conceptualised by interdisciplinary artist Dia Mehhta Bhupal, who is also the creative direction of the project.
“These cross border submissions, each expressing an individual’s personal journey, are being printed on upcycled fabric and will be a part of the final presentation,” she says. According to the artist, the buildings chosen for these installations, represent the diversity of the Corona Quilt Project, whether it is the Jindal Mansion—a heritage building on Peddar Road—or the Haji Ali Pumping Station, a building symbolic of keeping the city going. “Accompanied by the buildings are multiple buses and bus stops which will have the messaging ‘Live, Love, Laugh, Hope, Heal and Dream’. The locations on the Worli-Peddar Road Junction and the movement of the buses through the city have allowed us to bring the project to the public. The idea is to integrate the project with the cityscape,” adds Bhupal.
The artist has brought together natural elements such as the sun, the ocean and the butterflies along with portraits of frontline workers to create a narrative around resilience and courage. The installation at Jindal Mansion, which has already been unveiled, features a modern quilt called ‘A Rising Sun’, which is wrapped around the facade of the building with 1339 individual stories.
The installation at the Haji Ali Pumping Station, which will be unveiled today, is called ‘Warriors Rise’. In this artwork, a montage of portraits of frontline workers comes together as a pumping heart—emblematic of all the people who have kept us safe during the pandemic. ‘On the Rise’, the presentation on Worli Sea face, wraps around the facade of the building with over 5000 individual narratives coming together. It draws a parallel from the butterfly—a symbol of transformation and rejuvenation. “The squares [at the various installations] explore various themes but for me, personally, the children’s drawings from the NGOs and Schools have been most interesting. While designing the quilts, I have viewed every square multiple times and have been fascinated by how the simplest drawings have expressed a desire for freedom and despair at the idea of being locked in and hopes for a better tomorrow,” says Bhupal.