Writing on the wall

Writing on the wall


Writing on the wall

Earthy: Terracotta-tiled mural. Photo: Kala MadhyamAnd you thought that a painting on a wall could be the only work of art at home. Presenting murals — the age-old art of painting directly on surfaces, which can turn a bare wall into a masterpiece. What began more than 30,000 years ago in the form of cave paintings, and appeared in enclosed spaces of temples, churches, tombs, is now a trendy way to spruce up home interiors.

Wall murals have been around for many years now and will continue to be so. Especially with the quantum increase in the number of homes coming up in Bangalore and people wanting to do something ‘different’ for home interiors. But still, awareness about the art is still in its infancy feels architect, Sathya Prakash Varanashi who says, “Art is still the passion of a few.” By definition a mural is an extremely large work of art, most often a painting, applied to the surface of a wall, ceiling, or floor. A mural can be one of several styles, but all are designed to enhance the beauty of a building, room or any space, whether it is interior or exterior.

Be sure you want it...
To start things off, before getting a mural done at home, people should be sure that they want it on their wall as they will have to live with it. Says Juhi Santani, interior designer, “Before going in for a mural for your home, understand that it is not something which can just be pasted on your wall like any other painting. People living in the house need to connect to the mural, which also needs to be well integrated with the rest of the decor — the furniture, furnishings. It shouldn’t stand out as a sore thumb.”

What’s the thumb rule?
Adds Mili Amin, architect, “There’s a thumb rule — every mural should have a story to tell and you should select the one you can relate to. Just because everyone is getting one done or that you liked something you saw on television or on the internet is no reason for incorporating a mural in your personal space.” The idea is not to go with the ‘trends’, but to select something which is long-lasting and in keeping with your taste and the character of your home.

According to Varanashi, paintings and handicrafts, however attractive, are add-ons, while murals are integrated into the wall and structures. While paintings are two-dimensional, murals bring in the sense of depth due to their three dimensionality.

A major advantage with murals is with the price factor. At a cost comparatively lower than paintings, one can get a wall spruced up. And the options are endless. A host of materials can be used to decorate your wall at home, which include terracotta, stones, fibre glass (especially if you are considering a mural for your home exterior), wood, tiles, clay, burnt wood, fibre moulds and copper among others. Also, illustrations and painting directly on the wall with images of nature, floral designs or abstract art forms is another option.

“Contemporary designs are popular in private homes,” says Soumya Chavan, a mural artiste. She explains that every room in a house has something to say and the mural needs to be designed accordingly.

“Although tastes and ideas of people are subjective, getting an abstract art mural done in the living room is ideal as it does not drive you into a particular mood. The living room is a space where one spends a lot of time with family and friends. So it is better that the mural be such that it can be looked at from a different perspective every day.” But if you are not into abstract art, folk art murals, nature illustrations work well in the living room.

As for the bedroom, the art can be anything inspired from nature, but should be subtle and not overpowering; for the children’s room, anything from cartoon characters to popular fairy tales can be depicted through a mural. Varanashi suggests, “Unlike a painting, the mural cannot be removed and relocated at ease. Therefore, a certain degree of permanence has to be considered. It’s good to have a focus light fixed in advance in the roof to highlight the mural. If the type of mural is pre-fixed, the wall colour, background, and texture could be decided in accordance with the mural and if the wall needs future repainting, locate the mural in such a way that the paint drops may not harm it.”

Location of the mural is also critical. It should have a significant view and ideally can be on the external elevation wall, entrance, common areas and of course bedrooms. Another important consideration is the use of furniture around the work of art. Juhi Santani feels that furniture around the mural should be subdued.  “As the mural itself is striking, the objects around it should not steal its thunder,” she says. Varanashi chips in, “Deciding upon the wall is more important than furniture. Because murals are fixed, they also dictate what activity can take place near them. Among the most odd things to happen is a mural with some chest of drawers or sofa set placed near them, diluting the mural effect.”

Importance of lighting
Lighting is equally important. A work might look great during the day but not at night. So, deliberate on all these aspects before taking the plunge.
Geeta Manjappa, a housewife did just that. “We got a fibre glass mural done on the exterior wall of our house. For all those who plan to get one done at home, my one advice is to be sure about the theme, know beforehand how it will look on the wall and of course, consult with a professional mural artiste.”

Corporates show interest
And it’s not just private homes. Corporates too are an integral part of the bandwagon.
Says Mariam Thomas, Programme Director, Kala Madhyam that deals in folk and tribal art murals, “As Bangalore is home to a huge number of MNCs, many are lining up to use folk and tribal art murals for their office decor. Many corporates want something ‘Indian’ on their office walls and they are the ones who invest the most these days in this art.” 
The price tag varies. For instance tribal and folk art murals using Bastar Iron craft and Dhokra from Chattisgarh as well as hand made Terra cotta tiles from Kerala can cost anywhere between Rs 1,700 per sq ft and Rs 6,000 per sq ft, depending on the materials used, design and work involved.

For homes it works out to be cheaper, but here too, the price depends on the artist and his/her work and experience. There are no fixed prices. Materials like fibre could cost less, while metals cost more. Reputed artists have their minimum rates, which also vary with the size of mural. 

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