Dishing out hope

Updated: Jul 31, 2020, 10:40 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

A new edition of art plates by a Mumbai-based initiative is helping feed daily wagers, migrants and slum dwellers

Furry Friends by Zeynep Özatalay
Furry Friends by Zeynep Özatalay

During the lockdown, almost every third picture on our social media feeds has been that of a plate — packed with all kinds of fare, from a lavish English brekkie to a quick midnight Maggi snack. While a lot of people have sought comfort in food, so many more continue to find it difficult to manage a plateful as the invisible virus has also dealt a blow to our economy. "Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and terrorism combined every year, but in India, we have become immune to it. And as the country shuttered, over 140 million people lost jobs, worsening the situation," says Chitresh Sinha, CEO, Chlorophyll Innovation Lab, and the founder of The Plated Project, a social impact initiative aimed at eliminating hunger through art.

They have been tying up with artists and NGOs every month since the launch of the project in 2019 to create one-of-a-kind decor plates that are sold online and through pop-ups to feed the needy. And in June, the project launched a new collection, A Plate Full Of Hope, for those "who keep our lives running daily". The team roped in 20 artists from across the world who designed limited-edition art plates pro bono. "Each plate now sponsors 60 meals for a person's family. Initially, with the help of some sponsors, we were donating 100 per cent of the proceeds to Goonj's Rahat initiative. We ended up sponsoring 1,50,000 meals in a little over a month," shares Sinha, adding that now, they are directing all the profits towards the charity, after deducting production costs.

Chitresh Sinha
Chitresh Sinha

The idea behind the artwork for this series was to seek a little bit of hope amid the gloom. "We wanted the artists to pick something that they found hopeful amid all the negativity, and illustrate that," shares the founder. He points to one of the plates, titled A Vivid Dream, by Hana Augustine from Indonesia that shows a Koli girl and a boy in a fish pond. "It's about them sharing stories through the thin walls of their houses and letting their imagination fly. Then, there is another piece titled Where The Streets Have No Name, by artist Reshidev RK, who has happy memories of the hustle-bustle of everyday life in Mumbai. So, he recreated that on the plate," Sinha explains. The series also features other leading artists from 10 countries.

Where The Streets Have No Name by Reshidev RK
Where The Streets Have No Name by Reshidev RK

The Plated Project, the founder explains, has a two-pronged approach — to get the common man to start talking about the issue, and to give people who are investing in the plates a sense of happiness. "Our mantra is 'buy a plate, fill a plate'. For our other collections and regular tie-ups, we only deduct the production cost. The rest is shared between the artist and the charity," adds Sinha. Some of their other collections include Quarter Of Nostalgia to address malnutrition, and Encore, aimed at the old brass bands of Mumbai.

Shared Happiness by Demelsa Haughton
Shared Happiness by Demelsa Haughton

"It's a small act which makes you happy as the plates go up on your wall. But the dialogue it sparks off and the money you spend further a bigger cause. When you post the picture of the plate, someone asks you the story behind it. And that's how it becomes a part of the conversation," he elaborates.

Log on to theplatedproject.com
Cost Rs 1,999

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