Saloni Shah’s daily commute to Gurgaon has lately been filled with a little colour. As she walks into Jor Bagh metro station every morning, her eyes cut through the crowds to focus on a wall covered with flowers.
These photographs and artworks, which illustrate the connection between gardens and cultural backgrounds, are on display at the station as part of Habitat Photosphere, a year-long photo festival organized by India Habitat Centre. The aim of The Garden Underground, which features the work of Tony Clancy, Arati Kumar-Rao and Juhi Saklani, is to promote environmental awareness through art.
Shah finds that the evocative, colourful images punctuate her humdrum routine – “My grandfather goes for a walk in our housing society’s garden every day and has been trying to get me to come along for years. He tries to tempt me with the idea that if I see beautiful gardens and flowers every morning then my day will go well. I can now tell him that I do look at flowers every morning and don’t even have to wake up early.” And even as others rush past the exhibit, she stops to take a selfie in front of one of Clancy’s photographs.
Clancy, who is also the curator for the exhibition, said “This exhibition brings a small oasis to the depths of the metro system, where passing passengers can enjoy images that evoke the pleasures and spectacle of gardens... the pictures open up a dialogue between East and West, tropical and temperate, between those who create and tend for gardens and those who come to enjoy them.”
Between themselves, he, Saklani and Kumar-Rao present three organs of a garden’s ecosystem – flowers and plants, insect species and the gardeners who maintain these islands within increasingly suffocated cities.
Clancy’s riotously colourful, textured images celebrate the exuberant beauty of flowers; Saklani’s work recognises the hard work and expertise of gardeners; and Kumar-Rao focuses on the unique desert garden around the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.
The exhibit ends June 21.