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Updated: July 21, 2011 15:58 IST

Recycled art

Vijay Lokapally
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Art in trash: Dr. Chandrakantrao Gangakhedkar with his artwork.
Art in trash: Dr. Chandrakantrao Gangakhedkar with his artwork.

Dr. Chandrakantrao Gangakhedkar uses discarded branches and roots to make art pieces.

He finds use for things that are considered useless. Discarded branches and trees that have been felled attract this elderly Hyderabadi. It is a strange love. Time and health permitting, Dr. Chandrakantrao Gangakhedkar, 77, embarks on his favourite pastime, looking for deadwood, and creating lively artefacts out of it.

Dr. Gangakhedkar remembers the quaint Barkatpura. “I have lived in this house for 50 years now,” he says with pride. The house is a throwback to days when space and ambience was a very important component of your residential dreams. “The sounds you heard every morning were of birds chirping.” Today, the cacophony of traffic drowns your conversation inside the house.

He calls his work “rose wood art” and takes immense pride in his vocation. Having retired as a Deputy Director of the Veterinary Biological Research Institute in 1997, Dr. Gangakhedkar wanted to stay “active” and the best option was to pursue his dream of “rose wood art.”

It is rare, as he says, for anyone to make sense out of something that has been discarded. True, there are recycling plants making use of wastes in many areas but giving “artistic” shape to “ugly” roots is not common. Dr. Gangakhedkar produces some aesthetic pieces of work to support his claim that “art can create magic” provided you have the devotion to believe in your faith.

“I always back myself. It was not easy to begin with,” he recalls. He had his `informers' who brought word whenever trees were felled in Hyderabad. A storm would set him out in search of “uprooted trees”. Or else, he would tip scavengers who brought him roots. “I have even ventured into forests looking for dried trees and roots,' he smiles.

There are different types of roots and, as Dr. Gangakhedkar insists, they “help you to give them different type of shapes. They take their own shape but you can give them a beautiful form, of god and goddesses, or lovely birds and animals. It is a very challenging but enjoyable hobby.”

Why we should burn roots, he asks. “We can give them an art form with a little effort. Make decorative pieces out of them.” Among his most striking pieces of work are a mirror stand, a sprouting tree and a deer. “They are close to my heart,” he stresses.

His house is a rose wood art museum, with his work proudly displayed. He has 60 items but not one is for sale. “Some do it for commercial art, to make money. I do it for pleasure, personal satisfaction. These roots keep reminding me of an important fact of life. One should not forget your roots.”

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