A painter, an autorickshaw driver and a carpenter promote COVID-appropriate behaviour

A patch of Velachery Main Road, near the Pallikaranai marsh, has turned into a canvas that supports a pictorial campaign to promote COVID-appropriate behaviour.

R. Sriram, a painter, and his two childhood friends — K. Anand, an autorickshaw driver and S. Sridhar, a carpenter — are painting life-size images that exhort passersby to wear face masks, maintain social distance, and be alert to the early symptoms of the Coronavirus infection and ensure cleanliness.

The trio started the work when the lockdown began on May 10, 2021 and they seem to have covered much artistic ground.

They plan to extend this art project to stretches of Thoraipakkam-Pallavaram Radial Road, Grand Southern Trunk Road, Old Mahabalipuram Road, East Coast Road and Anna Salai.

“Feeding the needy would be expensive for us as we earn a meagre income, so we decided to use our skill to create awareness about the virus,” says 36-year-old Sriram, a resident of Nanmangalam.

The friends have been pooling money to buy paints and brushes.

The trio divide their work: Sriram, a professional artist, decides on the themes and draws sketches of the planned images on the carriageway; Anand and Sridhar paint inside the sketches. They spend at least four hours in the morning and evening towards this work.

The width of the road is a major criterion in the choice of a spot. On an average, every painting has seven colours, mainly fluorescent, with each colour having to be made available in three litres of paint. Notwithstanding heavy and constant vehicular movement, such paintings are believed to last as long as three months.

“I am not great at painting but Sriram has been helping me,” says Anand, who ferries patients and their family members on his autorickshaw free of cost.

Last year, Sriram collaborated with National Social Work (NSW), which sponsored the entire work to highlight facts about the pandemic.

Sriram worked with the NSW volunteers to paint several government buildings including panchayat offices of Moovarasampet, Madipakkam, Kovilambakkam and Siruseri.

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