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Art Walks Mumbai 

For a country rich in art and culture, it is not surprising the number of recent private and hyper-local initiatives taking people to new spaces and newer experiences. Art Walks Mumbai (AWM) is a 5-year-old initiative by Alisha Sadikot and Nishita Zachariah that aims to get more people talking and engaging with the art showing in the maximum city.

Alisha Sadikot is a museum and heritage learning professional using walks as a tool to instigate critical and creative public engagement with art, museum collections, urban histories and heritage spaces in Mumbai. Nishita Zachariah is an art educator and writer based in Pune, whose pedagogy delves into the stories, ideology and processes behind works of art and their creators. They conduct walks in tandem, each playing to their strengths, their camaraderie makes it feel like a chat with friends rather than the researched and guided conversation it is.

Their combined experience allows them to share unique insights and specialist knowledge for both enthusiasts and amateurs, and they’ve managed to create a loyal following keen on a deeper appreciation of contemporary art.

AWM started with a chance meeting at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, where they worked together for 3 years on the Museum’s education and outreach program. Gallery visits were part of the job description, taking students out for Saturday art hops became the norm, so much so that when they quit they missed it. AWM was born in Jan 2017, out of the need to once again take groups out on walks through the city’s art spaces, from galleries, collaborative spaces, residencies, and even public art installations.

As Alisha muses, “While gallery hopping in Mumbai is not a new concept, there are many (even within our own friends and families!) that are intimidated by a gallery and feel ill-equipped to examine works on view. We hope to encourage participants to engage with what’s in front of them, based on the simple act of looking closely, discovering, and discussing what they see. By providing the necessary context and clues to deciphering modern and contemporary art, and space for conversation, we hope to foster dialogue around works on display – because, with art, there truly are many ways of seeing.” Nishita adds, “The pandemic has meant we’ve done fewer physical walks, but in that time, we’ve explored the online space with chatty evening IG Lives, themed sessions on subjects as diverse fibre art, public art from across the world, and even a few private walks. We’ve even begun a crowd-sourced initiative, Public Art Map, to locate and catalogue public art across this city, and even a few hometowns.”

For now with the curbs on gatherings they’ve once again gone online, with hope to start regular online walks soon.

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