An alternate artistic platform or a co-working space, The Grid weaves its pathways around you in an all-encompassing way that is hard to predict
Justine de Penning often thinks that the upstairs, outside restroom with its mirrored ceiling and burnt silver walls would make a perfect alternate performance venue. I extrapolate and imagine the small audience streaming out to the expanse of white terrace wall where they can release their creativity post the performance. Right now, it has one diamond of intricate paint. Justine wants others to come forward to decorate it. They have been hands-off with the little community herb garden in the downward niche next to it too. The inside upstairs bathroom has hand-painted bowls converted into wash basins. I understand the hesitation. When you wash your hands into works of art, it can get intimidating.
We sit on a white sofa inlaid with a woven cane – the colour of the logo. The room can also be converted into a performance space. There is a duality at play here. The Grid is a co-working space and a creative platform. It is open to artists and non-artists. The fabulous art adorning the professional space is from Justine’s personal collection that reflects her performance training and Chennai upbringing. The co-working space fuels the programmes that are carefully curated to reflect the alternate, niche nature of the space. A self-sustaining ecology like the Shaun D’Sa terrarium with its crown of a taxidermy tarantula at the intersection of two rooms in the ground floor.
Image Courtesy of The Grid, Chennai. More about The Grid here: http://thegridspace.io/
The refurbished furniture for the workspace by Vincent Roy includes a table from Anna University – scribbles intact. The conference room with hand-hewn wood panels and the floor has a majestic teak table with ebony wings. The black wood is considered unlucky in India, so three teak wood dots line the sides and act as destroyers of the evil eye. Waste wood reapers in a faded verdigris hue make a stunning table that runs through the central room, overlooked by artwork by artists that ranges from Parul Gupta, Pushpamala N, Dayanita Singh, Srinath Iswaran, Fiona Clark, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Aman Khanna to MUNA.
All of this enveloped in a house built during the 1970s next to a quaint little public park. A roughly triangular path with benches leads to the small park where the thwack of a badminton racquet competes with the sound of the wind running through a million leaves. Like most public spaces in our city, those looking for privacy often grace the benches immersed in each other and more often than not, in the mural that faces them. Sameer Kulavoor’s work covers the entire side façade in a heady mix of pink, ochre, white and orange on grey. A contrast to the ever blue Chennai skies and the canopy of green. It celebrates the melting pot of ideas, art and works in all their creative and collaborative glory that lies inside the building and runs through the philosophical veins of The Grid.
In an age where we need to rethink our way of living, exploring this atypical space with its blurred lines between the personal, professional and artistic in a way that throws every sense of beginning and ends out of its beautiful mural framed windows is an exercise in fluidity. The Grid starts wherever you want it to and works, however, you wish it to. Even if that means starting with the reflective ideas thrown by a restroom and ending with the unaffected gate.
Amritha Dinesh is an independent writer based in Chennai. To read the full story, click here.
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