Charmi Gada Shah has long been fascinated with heritage, the architecture of edifices, and with memory. She believes that much of her work stems from the gentle erasing of time, where buildings change-walls get knocked down, windows get blocked, buildings morph or then get completely erased and replaced by newer buildings. In these passageways are memories that she is intent on following, unearthing, and examining.
Shah draws on her skills as a painter, photographer and mixed media artist - acquired during her years of training at the the Raheja Collage of Art, Mumbai and the Chelsea Collage of Art -to interface with her subject. She documents buildings in various states of disrepair in the vicinity of her studio, translating her photographs first into drawings and then, sculptural elements, thus reconstructing biographies of architectural forms that are rapidly disappearing from Mumbai's urbanscapes. It is not just a simple nostalgia for the past that drives Charmi to recreate these works, but the history of these buildings and the lives they have borne witness to and played an integral role in.
Explaining her penchant for the morphing urbanscapes of Mumbai, she says, "When I was in college I made a painting of construction site, with buildings caged by bamboo scaffolding. Later, I chanced upon a building that had been torn down, except for one wall, that it shared with another house that was still occupied. It was a very interesting visual for me. The building that had been demolished had debris on which the paint was still intact, various architectural features were still identifiable. There were all these traces of the house it had been that one could build on ... a loss of a place that was a home and of a life lived there, and sort of asked the question of where that building was now."