On The Rise- Worli School
We all need to express. Self-expression is vital to our happiness and energy. It is thus important that we find some way to manifest our thoughts and feelings, and art gives us the medium to do so. This is what Dia Mehhta Bhupal and Neha Modi picked up on to survive the times we are living in. They started a project called The Corona Quilt Project. A community engagement initiative, it was inspired by the quilting tradition that exists across the world and is often associated with solidarity and protection. The project gives people a chance to channel their personal pandemic experiences through the designing of a ‘square'. The squares explore the themes of home, community, safety, nature, the environments in which we exist, and the pandemic itself. Bhupal’s presentation incorporates the transformative journey symbolically coming together in natural motifs such as the sun, the ocean and butterflies. Each square has been thoughtfully placed to envision a larger design.
‘Quilting is a method of stitching layers of material together. The history of quilting can be traced back to at least medieval times. The word 'quilt' — linked to the Latin word 'culcita', meaning a bolster or cushion — seems to have first been used in England in the 13th century. The Corona Quilt Project took a tangible form in March 2021, as each of these squares came together in a community inspired presentation, showcased across Mumbai,’ Dia explains.
We spoke to her to know more about the project. Excerpts follow:
Haji Ali Warriors Rise
How did you get the people together to do this?
During the initial phase of the project, we actively reached out to the wider community including corporations, schools and NGO’s. We conducted video calls with their staff, students and volunteers to highlight the importance of self-expression to cope with their daily challenges. For those who had limited supplies, we distributed kits which included fabric, stationary and craft supplies. Till date, we have received over 12,000 squares in different mediums from schools, organisations, NGOs, individuals and corporations. We have included these individual narratives into a unified presentation, expressing our solidarity through the pandemic.
Each square is made up of unique materials ranging from repurposed fabric and gunny bags to tablecloths and paper collages. Can you tell us a little more about it?
We have employed a modern take on traditional quilting techniques. Quilting is considered one of the first examples of upcycling and typically involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. In our vision, we encouraged digital submissions to adapt to the language of today's world. These are now being printed on upcycled fabric and being made a part of the final presentations.
What significance do the location where the installations were set up have?
Mumbai as a city has been an epicentre of the virus. We wanted to capture the spirit, resilience and fortitude of its people. The location on the Worli-Peddar road junction is especially exciting. The locations connect high-traffic areas in Mumbai, allowing us to bring this to the public and make this presentation highly visible
What do you want the audience to take away from the project?
The Corona Quilt Project is a collection of individual experiences with a collective voice. The intention is to create a healing space within the city that is restorative, uplifting and inspiring. It aims to spread the message of inclusivity and compassion within the fabric of our society, by inviting people of all ages and demographics to participate.
Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani