The ‘Can’t Stop Art and Craft’ (CSAC) movement, initiated by a bunch of close friends in Shillong started painting the city walls on the 10th of December, 2017. One of the group members, Oliver, says that the purpose is to spread the message to people that graffiti is not vandalism. The mural has the Khasi quote ‘Thmu iaka jing bha’ which means ‘follow the right path’ transcribed in it. Arvi, another member of the group says, ‘We always wanted to do this legitimately.’ The other members in the group are Rakham, Kevin, Meban and Selwyn.
When Arvi came back to Shillong on vacation, the group wanted to do their regular drill of bombing dilapidated walls amidst the woods. But this time around, Oliver took the risk of approaching the local administration. ‘I approached the Secretary Shnong, Lummawrie, Laitumkhrah and he gave us the permission.’ The group immediately got into action and bought paint with their own money. ‘The people of the locality have also been very supportive. They have been offering us food and drinks’ says Arvi.
The group has been doing commercial art projects since 2012. They have painted murals in schools like Pine Mount and colleges like St Anthony’s. They have also been a part of the 18 Degrees Festival, 2014.
‘We have been questioned a number of times if we are scribbling demonic chants on walls.’ The misconception spreads when people commit mischievous acts like spraying slangs or quotes like ‘thug life’ on the wall. But Oliver and his team want to change this mindset. ‘It’s an art-form and many across the world even make a living out of it.’
Their work is inspired by international and national graffiti and street artists like Banksy, Robbo, Nychos, Ranjit Dahiya, Anpu Varkey and more. Their murals transcend different styles of graffiti from portraits to realistic art. ‘We hope to paint more walls across the city next year. ’
By Mrinal Paul