Being Santa

SANKET AVLANI X DURGA GAWDE

ARTISTS

The 'Be Santa' Christmas Tree Installation Structure at Soul Patch by Durga Gawde & Sanket Avlani

The 'Be Santa' Christmas Tree Installation Structure at Soul Patch by Durga Gawde & Sanket Avlani

A few days before Christmas, we were sitting around the studio, reminiscing how we’d spend this holiday as kids. Naturally, the discussion made its way to the concept of Santa, and the moment when we realized he wasn't real. And then we wondered, why couldn’t he be? Or rather, why couldn’t we all be Santa in someone's life?

So, we put our heads together came up with this - A live installation modelled around a Christmas tree to display donations, like clothes and stationery, for kids from underprivileged homes. We partnered with a renowned name in the charity sector, Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, to reach out to a wider group of people. Then slowly, as we watched, the bare branches of the tree started filling up with the spirit of Christmas.

A contributing artist and curator of Taxi Fabric, Sanket Avlani explained it this way. “The branch structure of a tree worked as a blank canvas. Every addition by the people around us, became a building block in this installation.”

As for Durga Gawde, when she came to the studio wanting to do something for Christmas, here is how she felt. “Being an artist, you’re living in a bubble. Everything you create is for yourself, unlike a designer who caters to the needs of many. I was trying to come out of a creative block and this piece that isn’t just for me, but for the benefit of many, really helped me put things in perspective.”

Of course, when we at Taxi Fabric play Santa, we don’t have a sleigh being pulled by reindeers - we have a Taxi!  Soon, we were riding around town in a special Christmas taxi designed by the beautiful children of Ashok High School, collecting donations. Courtesy the spirited people of the city, we collected over 1500 clothes and 500+ items of stationery, books, toys and such. From the places we couldn’t cover physically, people sent in their donations by post.

'Santa Bags' were sent around our locality for collections.

'Santa Bags' were sent around our locality for collections.

The response was so overwhelming, that we had to build two more trees to accommodate all the gifts. For the entire week, the installation remained open for visitors to walk in and contribute, making it an interactive display.

On Christmas Day at Soul Patch, we brought back our favourite children who had created Santa’s Taxi to have their pick from the tree. The rest were distributed amongst schools and organisations by the Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust.

As for us, the highlight was this. Watching the kids ride around town, in a Taxi Fabric of their own making and with pure joy on the faces, we had absolutely no doubt in my mind. Santa was real after all. He was in all of us.

Sanket Avlani & Durga Gawde's 'Be Santa' Christmas Trees on display at Soul Patch with donations from over 200 Individuals & Organisations

Sanket Avlani & Durga Gawde's 'Be Santa' Christmas Trees on display at Soul Patch with donations from over 200 Individuals & Organisations

The students from Ashok High School, Ghatkopar, Mumbai - who designed the Taxi Fabric, were invited to Soul Patch.
They enjoyed the installation and also picked up clothes and items that they liked for themselves.