Kashmir has a centuries old art and craft industry but the artists have always had to struggle when it comes to showcasing their work, especially in the absence of any art galleries in Kashmir valley.
However, under the smart city project, local Kashmiri artists have been allowed to showcase their talent on the walls, flyovers and subways in the Srinagar city. This is the first time artists have been given am opportunity to highlight their work.
Artists in the valley say that this is the first time that their work will be put up in public spaces for people to see. ''I am happy about the fact that we have been given space to showcase our talent, we are making paintings and people are appreciating it. They are happy to see our work, those who are artists should keep painting and never give up. Never lose heart. This requires a lot of patience. It's a god's gift...", an artist, Mohd Sadiq told WION.
"There are no galleries here, there is no scope. Even Ladakh has a gallery but we don't, students who study art also have nowhere to showcase their work. Some of them become painters and a friend of mine who was a gold medalist is working as a mason as there was no scope and career for artists,” Sadiq added.
The paintings on the walls in the city mostly depict the culture of the Kashmir valley. They have painted Kashmir's famous hill stations, shawls, temples, houseboats and shikaras among many things.
"We are thankful that we are able to work on these walls. There is so much work for people outside the UT but here artists have no work. We have made shawls, house boats, artisans, ski players, temples, and shikaras in these spaces. I am extremely happy about it . And when people stop while we are working here to take pictures and videos of our work, it feels very good. Art is a god's gift and it's a talent you are born with,” another artist, Abdul Rashid told WION.
In the absence of valid platforms for art display, many creative minds in Kashmir have had to struggle. Due to this, they were unable to make inlays in public reach. Many artists want the government to intervene so that youngsters don't lose the hope of becoming artists or choosing it as their career.
''Something has to be done for the students who study art for 5 years.They should have some scope and some mode of earning. The government should do something. Otherwise people studying art will lose interest and there would be no artists,” Sadiq added.
The purpose of these paintings and artworks across the Srinagar city is not only for the beautification of the area but also for creating spaces for these artists to showcase their talent.