Pune Biennale Foundation adds aesthetic value to a public building - Lighthouse, Pune with Nilesh Artist and his team.

More than 16000 sqft, 6 floors high, a humongous effort to convert an old bus depot building into a piece of art! That's what Pune Biennale Foundation does - literally lift and elevate public art.

The wall mural on the Lighthouse at Hadapsar is the most recent addition to the portfolio of cultural works created under the Pune Speaking Walls (PSW) project- a collaborative initiative of Pune Biennale Foundation with Pune Municipal Corporation and several stakeholders. These city level artworks are contextual and say something about us and our city – the Lighthouse mural demonstrates multiple narratives of skills development, promoting of public transport, and at a wider level how art and visual aesthetics can add value to public buildings and public spaces.

The Lighthouse mural is created on the old building that doubles up as PMT Depot and Workshop and houses more than 50 tenants. In this building Pune Municipal Corporation gave floor space to an IT corporate Principal Global Services (PGS) to create a skills development centre as its CSR activity. PGS was interested in creating a better environment for this space and thus partnered with Pune Biennale Foundation to explore ideas for revitalising the facade of the building. A well-known artist Nilesh Kharade (who had worked on St+Art Delhi and Dadasaheb Phalke mural in Mumbai) was invited to give shape and color to these ideas in creating the final artwork.

The Lighthouse is considered to be a metaphor that conveys change and new direction. It is both an anchor and direction post - through its internal function for the society and external facade for the surrounding spaces. This is probably one of the largest artwork on a public building covering an area more than 16,000 square feet. There are three themes communicated in the artwork- first is the representation of importance of skills development through the graphics of hands and equipment and wheels of growth as an approach for upward mobility; second, the movements of buses promotes use of public transport; and third, use of bold colors and patterns and the lighthouse itself to signify the aesthetics that can be brought in everyday sphere of life. In true sense, this mural conveys the meaning of Lighthouse. 

The project is unique on several accounts. The building is situated in an area bustling with a heavy traffic and pedestrian movement and the structure itself posed a challenging canvass – it is not a flat pane surface but has more of a honey comb facade with vertical gins and horizontal chajjas and balconies which make it highly 3-dimensional, is overshadowed by large trees making execution and visibility difficult. Initially tenants were not agreeing to remove their signboards and hoarding that covered more than 50 percent of the facade. However, the relentless persuasion with PMPML and with their action it was possible to remove all the hoardings and signboards to make way for the artwork.

On the surface it might be seen as a cosmetic treatment but there is a much deeper outcome for the city. While the actual artwork took less than a fortnight to paint, the consultation processes, stakeholder engagement and agreements to create something new took considerable time of almost five months. Thus the project demonstrates healthy collaborative approach between different kinds of stakeholders PGS, Pune Biennale Foundation (PBF), Pune Muncipal Corporation (PMC), and Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML).

This is one more building block by Pune Biennale Foundation in improving public domain and making it beautiful and relevant. We need several such landmarks in the city that add an aesthetic value and leads to development of new cultural premises. We need more patrons like PGS who are not only extending financial support but are engaging with the context and the city, more acceptance within government agencies such as PMC and PMPML to move beyond the basic and mandatory infrastructure to better placemaking initiatives.

Venue: PMPML Bus station, Hadapsar


Nilesh Kharade

Born on 6th October 1984 in Solapur, Nilesh started painting at an early age of 8. He pursued his Diploma in Fine Arts from Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, Pune. His early work include realistic and figurative compositions where he made a mark in producing water colour textures and patterns. He worked on socially driven subjects like global warming, terrorism etc. through his art. He also spent few years teaching at Sai College of Art, Pune.

Nilesh painted at numerous public locations across India and abroad. Recently, he painted Kumari in Nepal, Dhanapur Railway Station in Bihar, Metro Station in New Delhi among many other large scale public art works with entities like Start India Foundation and Asian Paints. Nilesh painted the full facade of Danapur Railway Station i.e. 230' X 25' ft wall art in the memory of Indian born genius aka Father of Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry- Aryabhata. He painted this mural in his style of comic book illustrations during WALK FOR BIHAR festival.