The Dream Universe of the Dewarists

The Dewarists Stage at the NH7 Weekender, Pune
Mapmaking Miniature Multiverses where stars hang low and hot air baloons blink their eyes at you. Giant metal 3d animal constellations, and an LED screen projecting star studded skies.

Earlier this year, the lovely people at OML decided to take a new approach to Art at a Music festival. Rather than having installations (like my Kabootar last year), what if each stage became a canvas for a different artist? There was Daku , Sameer KulavoorVaibhavi Kowshik and me. I got to do two stages- The Dewarists Arena, and it's sweet little hipster offshoot- The Other Stage.

My mother Nilofer Suleman started her journey into art as a Cartographer. She used to recreate these old Columbus era maps, and as a child, I'd spend hours watching her pour over them, creating rivers and mountains of ink with her fingers. 

 I think it's really here that both my fascination with travel and mapmaking began. And while her maps (and now her art) is very much inspired by the real world, and real streets, my maps were miniature magical multiverses, rooted only in the sky dome of the imagination. 

And so, I began to weave the Dream Universe of the Dewarists. The Dewarists is a show by Babble Fish productions that brings together musicians and artists from across the world to collaboratively create as they travel to different locations across India. Each episode is shot in a landmark building in a different inspired location, and for me that became the starting point of inspiration. I wanted to put down all these spaces that the Dewarists travelled to into one cohesive map. 
Here it is- the dream universe of the Dewarists, explained:

Capitol Cinema, Mumbai 
Apart from the building itself, it became about Bombay, the stones that crown Marine drive, the big red BEST buses.

Samode Palace, Rajasthan  

While Anoushka Shankar's marking on the map didn't get a building, she became a shrine of her own, and like the video it's all inkspills and flowers. 

Kaziranga was the next marking on the map, green layered tea terraces and forests and rhinos.

Shimla mountains and pinecones

the green apple fields and misty castles and breweries of Scotland

A Rose Compass
Because we all need some direction sometimes.

And a train to take us through it all. 

And that wasn't all. The larger idea was that behind this map of the Dewarists, would be animations of the sky that gave it a sense of movement and dynamism through the sets. 
And so I created over 40 animations that Activ8Media could use to VJ with. Here are gif versions of some of the animations. It was a beauty, The sun rose over the stage, rain clouds gathered as Shankar Tucker's band sang "Baadal barse", hot air baloons blinked their eyes at you, and when the sun set, the moon rose, constellations formed in the sky and lighthouses helped you find your way through churning seas. 

these are some of the many animations I created for the stage. 

40 animations, a 70 foot stage, 4 cities, over a hundred illustrations and 60 days of sleepless love later, it's all done. 
For me this has been a churning. A meditation in detail. 

How much detail could I find an appreciate in the show and it's music? how much detail and inspiration could I find in the sky? Each exact constellation was mapped out, windows drawn in exact proportion and placement of each building, each form was layered and gilded in gold. Having never drawn building's before, love's labour shone through. And this wasn't all, there was also another stage (details of that coming soon) and a lounge (that we didn't end up doing). Here's more from the process- 

Before I close this chapter, a burst of gratitude.
Thank you Vijay Nair, Vaibhavi, Srini (who handled the production of the stage), Dharam and the rest of the happy OML team and Nishant from Activ8media who did the Vjing.
Shilo Shiv Suleman