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A young girl on Mumbai streets inspired Ian Abell's work of art for Ambani house

The London-based artist says that he also read and saw films on Dhirubhai Ambani for his artwork.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Sep 25, 2017, 11.54 AM IST
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This piece of work was created by London-based artist Ian Abell for the home of the richest man in India.
This piece of work was created by London-based artist Ian Abell for the home of the richest man in India.
London-based artist Ian Abell found his inspiration for the artwork at Mukesh Ambani's home in the form of a young girl on the streets of Mumbai

As guests step off the elevator, at one of this country's most famous addresses, there is a sense of their emerging from within the narrative of the city of Mumbai. Twin panels mapping the financial capital of India and its many landmarks flank the bank of elevators at the Altamount Road residence of Reliance Group chairman Mukesh Ambani and his family. This piece of work was created by London-based artist Ian Abell for the home of the richest man in India.

A young girl on Mumbai streets inspired Ian Abell's work of art for Ambani house
‘The Baby’ is an artwork created by Ian and Richard Abell. (Image: Agencies)

During a visit to India, Abell told ETPanache, "We came to India for an initial brief and were given books on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani. I watched some films and was fascinated by the fact that he would write motivational slogans on the walls in the city. A phrase of his: 'for those who dare to win, there is a whole world to win' really summed up the maximum city for me."

His inspiration for the piece, he said, was sudden. "There was this really sweet moment when a girl came and knocked on my window. There was just this sort of sense that maybe you are next, maybe you could be the next big star or industrialist or something. She became the muse for developing the piece. I didn't know anything about her, just that she represented someone with a dream," he said.

A young girl on Mumbai streets inspired Ian Abell's work of art for Ambani house
London-based artist Ian Abell. (Image: Agencies)

The piece has many landmarks and famous symbols and faces of the city: the national park, railway tracks, Sachin Tendulkar's face and Dhirubhai's first office at Opera House among other things. But for Abell, it was all being viewed from the perspective of that little girl. "I imagined her taking the train every day, going along the railway tracks from somewhere in north Mumbai to Colaba. She became the centre for me," he said.

This also fit in well with the client's brief: "They [the Ambani family] didn't want the piece to be about them. They wanted it to be about the city. It was them within the city," he said.

The Mehta family story
From a piece that has the family as a part of a larger narrative, Abell has moved to one that presents the narrative of the family: the story of businessman Jay Mehta's grandfather, NK Mehta, and his journey from India to Africa.
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