Chennai’s Walls: an Endless Canvas

Chennai is full of walls.  Many of them are marked “stick no bills” – and people will generally abide by that request.  But the majority end up being political advertising space.


The successive layers of paint upon paint, posters upon posters are accepted as a part of the texture of the city, and are rarely examined in close detail – though one of my predecessors here has photographed walls like the one below and turned it into a profitable art exhibition. Without all the stuff I’ve included in the photo for context.

Sidewalk Storefront

But on a major street in Chennai, the Stella Maris College Department of Fine Arts has turned a 250-meter stretch of wall surrounding their compound into a giant artists’ canvas. I spent a morning photographing them, and thought others might enjoy browsing some of the individual pieces. The project is called, “The Trees and the Skies”, and is accompanied by the following description:

The concept is a metaphor to signify art that represents the rootedness of the trees and the open imagination of the skies.  The paintings envisage a change which can unite all people as we reassess the use of nature and our environment


The gentleman sleeping on the sidewalk is not part of the exhibition – but is included for context!

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It’s hard to see how much detail is in some of these pieces.  Check out this close-up from the painting above:



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The previous painting is gloomy, but I like the caricature of the trucks we see all over town.  Here’s a close-up:


Here are more examples and more close-up detail shots.  These are a pleasure to drive past every morning.  I imagine what if all the walls were painted with art instead of political ads…

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Some jerk left his bike here.  Oh wait, that’s MY bike…

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One Response to Chennai’s Walls: an Endless Canvas

  1. John Elliott says:

    I really like the weathered walls, which have a lot of soul. I will have to seek these out when I return to India some day. Some walls could be a great addition to my ongoing “Walls and Spaces” Series

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