To complement their ongoing exhibition, titled Voicing A Presence: Women artists in the Jehangir Nicholson collection, the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation (JNAF) have been conducting a series of programmes. The latest event is a discussion, Connecting the Bricks: Art, Architecture and the Environment that explores how architecture can be aesthetically pleasing as well as utilitarian.
Kamini Sawhney, conservator at JNAF, explains, “Jehangir Nicholson was a collector who patronised art and funded research. Since women artists made their presence felt in the 1970s, his portfolio boasted of a variety of art by women artists. Apart from showcasing art, JNAF is also about giving a platform to discuss topics pertaining to the arts and cultural heritage of the city through photographs, films and discussions.”
She adds that for Connecting the Bricks, they have invited Brinda Somaya and Shimul Javeri Kadri, two women architects who are trying to preserve the art and architecture of the city while also including contemporary elements. The discussion will be moderated by Kaiwan Mehta, architect, urban researcher and author of books like Alice in Bhuleshwar on the locality, which used to be a native town in colonial times.
“It’s about preserving the past while exploring the future and how architecture should incorporate local materials and keep in mind people’s needs. Both Brinda and Shimul have worked on heritage structures and ensured that the structures they design utilise locally available materials.
Emphasis is also put on methods of lighting and ventilation through access to the sun; thereby ensuring the wind blows into the house. So, in Andhra Pradesh, the designs should incorporate Kadappa stones while in Goa, these should include laterite stone to blend in the environment,” adds Sawhney.
The discussion will also focus on challenges faced by urban architects due to the influx of building lobbies, poor urban planning and an exploding population. “The newer buildings look the same, so we are trying to ensure they have a certain character and identity of their own.
Similarly, we will also talk about how the newer designs sadly do not take into consideration community space, trees and nature, which are a must for children and are the green lungs of the city.”
The discussion will start with a presentation on the works of the architects. At the end, there will be an open session where audiences can pose questions as well. “It’s about finding innovative solutions to architectural problems and bringing art back into architecture. There was an aesthetic sense to structures earlier, which is missing now and needs to be recaptured,” she signs off.