With the government not keen on recruiting Fine Arts teachers, Yallappa Uppar, with his ‘Art Master Course’ certificate, would have ended up opting for a job that had nothing to do with his passion. But, a chance to work with a different media saved him.
Ten years after he made the choice, Yallappa is a happy man doing what he loves, making sculptures and getting paid for them.
Like Yallappa, there are 100 more sculptors and Fine Arts graduates, who are now able to make a living in an art village in Haveri district.
Located off the Pune-Bengaluru National Highway (No. 4), 37 km from Hubballi, the Utsav Rock Garden at Gotagodi in Shiggaon taluk of Haveri district, is a prime example of the transformation of an art village concept into a revenue-generating model.
The Utsav Rock Garden has already become a picnic hotspot for the people of the northern districts of Karnataka, where people love to spend the day experiencing ‘village life’ recreated by artisans.
The enjoy the art works, which are a mix of both contemporary and traditional art forms, fashioned out of cement.
What is unusual is that the ‘art village’ keeps on expanding, adding new creations while providing work to the artisans and the sculptors. The brainchild of senior artist, art teacher and folklore scholar, T.B. Solabakkanavar, and given shape by his son, Harsha Solabakkanavar, the rock garden, is an attempt at preserving Kannada culture and traditions.
“The set-up is in the form of a company now, but will soon get converted into a trust,” says Managing Director of the garden, Prakash Dasanur.
The art village is a training ground too.
“We provide training along with food and accommodation, and remuneration for the artists work. Over 2,000 artists have been trained here and they are taking up individual and group art assignments,” said Vedarani P. Dasanur, curator of the rock garden.
“There are around 80 Fine Arts schools in Karnataka, and not many who pass out are able to eke out a decent living. We experimented and recreated a revenue-generating model. The government could facilitate creation of such art villages in other places or involve artists in beautification projects and in preserving art and culture,” said Mr. Solabakkanavar.
“If the artists team up, there are various opportunities for them, especially in the wake of a growing demand for cement sculptures,” said Harsha.