Morning well spent at Sir J J School of Art, Mumbai, India


It was an unusual Sunday Morning January11 when we (me & daughter Tanya) had stepped out of house at 7 AM in the morning to board a local train for Church Gate for making it to J J School of Art on D.N.Road, Mumbai. It was my daughter Tanya’s Aptitude Test for National School of Design, Ahmedabad which was to start at 10 AM. In my 20 years of stay in Mumbai I had not seen Mumbai Local on a Sunday Morning. It was chili morning by Mumbai standards, with very few people outside, I am sure most of them would have been sleeping through the morning after the week-long hard work and even harder travel for making it to office in time. Tanya, slightly nervous about exam but thrilled about train ride, occupied a cozy comfortable window seat and started working on her tab.

I wondering, is this is the same railway station and western railway which I board every morning from Kandivali and in the evening from Church Gate. The silence was deafening…and on week days the commotion is deafening. This is life; this is Mumbai life, encapsulating real ironies of life.

We reached Church Gate Station which too worn a deserted look. We parked ourselves in eating joint Wimpys to savour hot Mumbai style breakfast where for the first time I got the choice of place to sit. We hailed first cab, and he happily agreed to take us to our destination – J J School of Art. & There we are…oops were!


Tanya moved to her exam hall and I had all 3-hours with me to while out and believe me I had no concrete program except finding some piping hot tea and a place to sit, which I could find in front of the canteen. After sitting for some time, and flipping through some pages of Private India, I could not resist myself from taking round of the sprawling J J Campus which reminded me of my student days of 80s at Hindu College in Delhi University.

The building is heritage structure as Sir J. J. School of Art was founded in March 1857 with the generous donation offered by Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy, the first Baronet. J J, as it is fondly called is one of the pioneering institutes of fine art education in India, since its establishment in 1878 in the current Campus, with generous donation of Jamshetji Jijibhoy, under the British administration. The School today stands in the heritage building with departments of drawing and painting, sculpture and modelling, mural, portraiture, print making, arts and crafts including ceramics, interior decoration, metal work and textiles; and teachers training with art teachers’ diploma, Art Masters and Diploma in Painting Education.

But I am sorry to note that such an illustrious institution is crying for maintenance and upkeep which has produced alumni to the stature of Vasudev Gaitonde, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, Jeram Patel, Prabhakar Barve and Prabhakar Kolte. The building is in near tattered condition, with heaps of garbage in the campus itself, old benches, non-functional fans, no drinking water for waiting parents and far from decent loos. But it should be visited for its ancient structure, greenery, coloured painting, murals, old school feel, nostalgia at play, old houses, servant quarters…all this and much more. The institution deserves much more on the part of Government, Students, Administration and Bloggers like us who need to write about such ancient structures which add to the charm of old Mumbai. I took complete round of campus and moved outside catch the glimpse of CST Station, Times of India Building and BMC building (Other heritage structures) …good I had missed my morning walk in the park in western suburbs, only to catch it amidst heritage structures of Mumbai; a rare feat for a person like me who has spent all her Sunday mornings ensconced in bed, sipping hot tea and watching Rangoli on DD National (Yes this is my Sunday routine from last 20 years). For the first time I realised what I have missed during my 20-years stay in Mumbai.

Let me add here, J.J. has given India some of its revolutionary artists making a global impact on art. Even in contemporary Indian art scenario, J.J. continues to contribute with artists like Suhas Bahulkar, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, and many more. In the changing face of representation in contemporary art around the world, J.J. holds a strong ground giving training in all the technical aspects of fine arts, with exposure to all the mediums.
I wish and hope that, unique and one –of-its-kind institution – Sir J J School of Arts is able to draw attention from concerned authorities who could take its glory to the next level.
All in all…my morning was well spent, against my notion that how I will kill three hours, till the time Tanya writes her exam.
Irony of life, three hours were looked very short to Tanya to write her exam, and very long for me, with nothing concrete to do.

But as goes the saying – Time flies and it flew!

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