In New Delhi, my father is known as ‘MatkaMan‘ for the social work he does. This work involves a wide range of activities the most extensive of which is placing, refilling and maintaining over 70 traditional red clay pots (Matkas – hence his name) all over South Delhi to provide free drinking water to people.
At the beginning of 2019, Deepti Gaur, a student at Delhi College of Art contacted him with a project to paint his Matkas. He forwarded her idea to me and I became very interested in the project. I emailed her excitedly and we planned to start the project on my yearly visit to Delhi in April 2019.
We met 4 evenings in the Delhi heat and in the midst of her exams, and we managed to paint 20 Matkas. We did the painting at the Matka stand closest to our home where my dad also serves free breakfast in the morning. My mother jokingly likes to call this place the ‘Flagship store’ or his ‘Head Office’. We welcomed anyone who wanted to join us and were pleasantly surprised by those who took part. Even my grandmother with dementia seemed to enjoy taking part.
Each Matka was coated in an earthy red or green colour and then we used white paint for the designs. There were no planned designs and people were encouraged to use their own creativity. Deepti gave us guidance and inspiration when we needed it but was not particular about what they should look like.
I loved the open spirit of the project and the art really added a lot of joy to the Matka stands. I look forward to seeing the rest of the 50 that Deepti will paint!