Sculpting the Truth
Offering us a glimpse into his outdoor installation at Santiniketan, West Bengal, renowned sculptor Ashish Ghosh discusses how his art strives to highlight the delicate balance in nature and its precarious position in today’s world.
As a sculptor, I have often felt that there is infinite beauty hidden within the changes and transformations that occur in nature. Since my very childhood, nature has inspired and fascinated me; the different shapes of clouds with changing seasons, rugged mountains and delicate water lilies, the outdoors that I spent most of my time in, all compelling me to express my feelings through sculpture. Gradually, I understood that nature in all her diverse forms was my muse and documenting her various moods and shifts was to be my lifetime’s calling.
Installation: Nature/ Life at Stake
Presently, humanity is preoccupied with searching for life on faraway planets, while our own environment stands neglected and often damaged. One must remember that our survival is strongly connected with maintaining a balance in the natural world and its denizens. In the last 200 years, we have destroyed so many species and plants, literally removing them from the face of the earth. Today, tigers, red crabs, cranes, are among some of the species that are being hunted out of existence; these unique and beautiful animals may soon be relegated to becoming future museum specimens. The mangrove forest of the Sunderbans is similarly disappearing, endangering the livelihood and security of people and wildlife in both Bengal and Odisha. This particular installation, titled Nature/Life at Stake is an appeal to the consciousness of all to protect and preserve our natural diversity. I’ve tried to depict a world where the mighty tiger is struggling for safe shelter, birds are perpetually frightened, red crabs are seeking hasty escape routes and the man himself is taking refuge in trees. It’s a reality we may be closer to than we think.
As a professor at the Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, I had the opportunity of working with volunteers from the general public as well. I particularly enjoy interacting with others—school children, youngsters and adults—and understanding their thoughts towards nature. My art evolves through further dialogue with the views and opinions of others. The essential aim behind this collection and all my nature sculptures has been to generate awareness about the environment so that more and more people can revel in the beauty of nature, while at the same time, empathise with its present quandary and help preserve it for the years to come.
Material used: Jute, bamboo, dry palm leaf, earth colour, natural thread, stow, dry leaf
Installation site: Lalbandh Eco Park, Santiniketan, India
Total area: Approx 100 feet /80 feet
In collaboration with the students of Silpa Sadana, Sriniketan
Article originally published in Oct 2014 of Saevus Magazine, subscribe to the latest issue here
Read also: Of Dancing flames and Geese
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