After Vizag-based artiste Sonali Upadyaya recently resurrected an abandoned brick wall at the Navy Airbase with graffiti, her artwork is slowly garnering curiousity. The graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, had earlier painted the cafeteria wall for a squadron and created artwork on the front wall of a school library. The abandoned brick wall, whose origin is still unknown, stands at the airbase, INS Dega, near Vizag airport and is the canvas for Sonali’s latest work of art.
Recalling how the events unfolded, the comic book illustrator says, “The Navy was clearing all the debris at the airbase when they found a huge wall. Instead of demolishing it, they felt it would be nice if it could be revived and they called me. The idea was to reuse the wall whilst retaining the same texture, essence and the vintage look through graffiti.” Sonali’s artwork, which depicts a sailor in his ceremonial crisp white uniform; sun rays shooting across the wall and three sailors watching their aircraft flying in the sky, is summed up in the title — ‘Where Heroes Rise’.
Amidst several challenges, the Pune-born artiste took 35 days to turn the 14-feet-high and 40-feet-wide old wall into a monument. “I started the work in November, but the premises was inundated because of heavy rainfall, so I had to wait till December. Also, since the place was abandoned, the wall was surrounded by bushes, snakes, bees and other insects. Moreover, I was standing close to the wall and painting, so I did not know how exactly it was shaping up. I had to walk back 50 metres each time to view the painting,” she reveals.
So, what exactly went into the makeover? “I used different shades of blue and white so that it complements the Indian Navy dress code. The surface of the wall was bumpy, but I started painting directly on it so that the aesthetics would be retained and it would look natural. I used primer to make the colours look radiant,” says Sonali, adding, “I’m really pleased with the way the work has come out. Chitra Vara Prasad, another budding artiste, assisted me in this process. People can see the artwork while boarding the flight.” The artiste feels that the art scene in Vizag is growing steadily. “When I came here five years back, there wasn’t much scope for art here. But now, with several art workshops, exhibitions, and through word of mouth, people have realised the significance of art,” says the artiste.