The Delegation of the European Union to India and the St+art India Foundation will mark International Women’s Day (8th March) by inaugurating a street art project by European artist NeSpoon, building on the collaboration of the artist with 25 local women from Insha-e-Noor women’s livelihoods initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. It marks the EU's commitment to women's empowerment and gender equality which are cornerstones for inclusive and sustainable development and at the heart of EU policies across sectors.
As a cross cultural exchange between Europe and India, the project is a celebration of women’s traditions across the world. The mural celebrates European and Indian women's crafts, which have surprisingly similar patterns, and gives it a contemporary urban dimension through street art, bringing it into a public space to be celebrated and shared. For this work, NeSpoon derived inspiration from the white lace traditions of Europe as well as Indian patterns she learned at a workshop with the women of Insha-e-Noor, and adapted it by integrating shapes inspired by Indian rangoli and local colours, to produce a work of art that is both European and Indian.
The project will be inaugurated on International Women’s Day - 8th March, 2019, at 5 pm by the Ambassador of the European Union to India Tomasz Kozlowski, and former Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Director of UN Women, Ambassador Lakshmi Puri. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the role of public art as a means towards women's empowerment, by including prominent voices, including those of women activists, cultural curators and community leaders. The event will start with folk singers from the Kathputli colony, the biggest community of street performers in India.
NeSpoon is a street artist known for her practice based on embroidery and lace. By using intricate doily patterns, the artist beautifies abandoned and unadorned spaces in unlikely urban jungles, transforming them into stunning works of art, successfully bringing them to the streets (and on a much larger scale), giving the practice new possibilities, and new life.
Speaking of this artistic collaboration, Ambassador Kozlowski said, "The EU is committed to working together with many governmental and civil society partners to continue to raise awareness around the empowerment of women and girls, and to advocate for greater gender parity and equal access to opportunities, whether through arts, through development projects or through political dialogue and public diplomacy. Because investing in women and girls is investing in fair and prosperous and sustainable development. What this street art project demonstrates is that gender equality and the empowerment of women are universal: whether in Europe or in India, whether through ancient techniques and crafts or through contemporary means, women express a strong message of equality and empowerment that we all must listen and act upon to break gender stereotypes."
Elaborating on this unique project, and her experience in India, the artist NeSpoon said, “Lace patterns contain a basic code of harmony. The techniques of painting inspired by lace patterns and similar crafts from around the world are just tools I use to express my thoughts and ideas. Working with the women of the Insha-e-Noor group and exchanging ideas with them on traditional Indian and European embroidery and crochet has been a very enriching experience. It was inspiring to get to know these women and their stories, and discovering Indian lace and crochet patterns. I am thankful to the EU and St+art India for all their support, and for inviting me to be part of this incredible art and culture movement in India."
The mural at Lodhi Art District will serve as a space for discussion on the irreplaceable role of women in the public and private fabric of a society and will build upon EU-India collaboration in this field. The event will be the culmination of St+art India‘s ongoing Urban Contemporary Arts Festival, Lodhi Art Festival 2019, which has involved the participation of over 30 artists, musicians, chefs and performers.
About the European Union (EU) and its relations with India:
The EU, which consists of 28 countries, has the world's largest economy and its third largest population, after China and India. For over 57 years the EU and India have worked together in areas of mutual interest, including the socio-economic, recognizing the role of women as central to the development of sustainable and inclusive communities. The EU's new Strategy on India, released in November 2018, reaffirms India as a natural partner of the EU in addressing regional and global challenges, including gender parity and the fight against social exclusion. More information here.
About the EU and gender equality:
The EU places gender equality at the center of its work through multiple partnerships with multilateral and regional partners. It promotes the effective access of justice and realization of rights for women and
girls; supports economic equality between men and women, and addresses gender based violence through the Spotlight Initiative, among a host of other activities to strive towards gender parity.
More specifically in India, the EU's development cooperation has systematically given priority to gender as one of the cross cutting issues in all calls for proposals, and subject to a long tradition of numerous dedicated projects from reproductive health, economic empowerment and protection of vulnerable women (most recently on the gender pay gap, or legal empowerment of women victims of violence).
Gender equality and the empowerment of women are also a cornerstone of the EU's public diplomacy activities in India in recent years, with dedicated events and campaigns for major international days, including with a powerful initiative on girls taking over the jobs of Ambassadors.
About St+art India Foundation:
St+art India Foundation is an organization formed on the principle of ‘Art for All’ and works on art projects in public spaces. The aim of the foundation is to make art accessible to a wider audience by taking it out of the conventional gallery space and embedding it within the cities we live in - making art truly democratic and for everyone. In the past six years, the foundation has organized 14 St+art festivals and numerous public art projects in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Goa, Coimbatore, Kolkata and Chandigarh, creating iconic landmarks within all these cities. Each new edition of festivals and public art districts brings to civic spaces curated interventions, which are embedded in urban culture, and activate alternative spaces for art enabling people to reimagine how public spaces can be utilized. For the foundation, which has been responsible for making urban art a movement in India, public art interventions are a celebration of the street as a canvas for visual creativity.
Please find here Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski's speech on the occasion of International Women's Day 2019 - Inauguration of a Street Art Project.