City on canvas
A Q&A with writer and artist Molly Crabapple who's released limited-edition art prints inspired by Mumbai
How would you best describe your recent trip to India?
This was my third trip to India — I have cherished every moment I have spent in this magnificent country called a continent. This time, I visited Mumbai for the Tata Literary Festival, and travelled to Kolkata, Goa, and Delhi. I love the energy of Mumbai’s streets, alive with the ambition of millions of people (it feels a bit like my hometown New York, but so much more so). I love my razor-sharp journalist friends in Delhi, the old cafés and bookshops in Kolkata, the chance to sketch the Kisan Mukhti farmers’ march alongside the great Rohini Mohan [author of The Seasons of Trouble], or draw the stunning buildings created by so many different empires, religions and civilizations.
Of the three — Banganga Tank, Haji Ali Dargah or Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus — which location was the most visually inspiring?
I especially like the drawing of the Haji Ali Dargah. There’s something about walking that long causeway to the shrine in the middle of the bay, alongside all of those people, then sitting down to take in all the detail and chaos of the scene... its both a dream and a challenge for an artist with a sketchbook.
Banganga Tank is so still and calm, in a city that surges with so much electric energy. I sat there for hours looking at every detail of the temples, the tank and the steps, cherishing the unexpected silence.
Haji Ali Dargah
Could you take us through your sketching process?
I drew these three pieces live, on the spot, usually sitting in some corner, hoping no one noticed me. I use markers and a pilot pen, and each took maybe an hour.
The sketchbook you’ve used is from Paris. How do cities play a role in what you create?
Drawing is how I relate to the world, and whatever city I’m in, I try to draw it.
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