As many as eight sculptors draw inspiration from their 3,800-km tour around South India

Shaded by the trees at Lalit Kala Akademi, a cohort of sculptors was at work. Slivers of sawdust flew as their chisels probed into woodblocks. On the final leg of a 3,800-km working tour around South India, these sculptors had turned random impressions into works of art.

To give just one example, Shivarama Chary of Achala Studio, who led the team of seven sculptors and a photographer, has produced a work that reflects multi-level roads — a striking feature of Bhairavakona he noticed on the trip — and also incorporates the creepers and coconut shells and other jetsam he picked up on the way.

The tour, dubbed “Mobile Sculpture Studio”, provided them a wider canvas of impressions.

In addition, they were given the luxury of stopping at hotspots for sculpture and interacting with other sculptors.

The 20-day tour undertaken on a Force Traveller touched Bhairavakona, Bangalore, Belur, Chikmagalur, Western Ghats, Mysore, Udhagamandalam, Kochi, Kanyakumari, Puducherry, Mamallapuram and Chennai and culminates in a display of the wooden carvings at Kalakriti Art Gallery in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

To preempt logistical nightmares, they avoided stone and metal sculpture, and stuck to wood. “Metal and stone sculpture will entail transporting a whole raft of heavy materials and instruments, including stone slabs, kiln, steel and brass and welding machines. In contrast, wood carving requires just chisels and hammers and a few woodblocks,” explained Shivarama.

Creations, on-the-go

Playing cards, a boy holding a spinning top, tall candles and an aeroplane are among the artworks created on the go. Two sliced wooden pieces of the globe united by rods — painted green and crowned by metal leaves — and 20 green-coloured sunk into a wooden pedestal is dedicated to the tour. S. Kantha Reddy, author of this work, explained: “The nails denote the days and the entire piece calls to mind the green ideas that inspired the works on the tour.”

The surprise package, however, was photographer Sajjad Hussain and his maiden work of sculpture.

Commissioned to take pictures of the travelling sculptors, Sajjad fell in love with their craft and tried his hand at it. The result is a work imbued with charming symbolism on a block of wood; he has succeeded in conveying the sense of fraternity among the seven sculptors.