Monday, October 01, 2012

'SHRISTI' ... Life in Creation



'SHRISTI' ... Life in Creation.

In the collection of

Rajasthan Sandstone
2m Long x 1.83m High x 0.8m
[6ft 6in x 6ft x 2ft 8in]

The Story ...

I was invited in the year 2002 by Visva Bharati University in 
West Bengal, India as a 'visiting artist' who was 'self taught'. 
The university was set in the grounds of the home of Rabindranath Tagore, born in 1861 and who died in the year 1941. 
A poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, 
and painter and to his credit he won the Noble Prize in Literature 
in 1913 which also made him the first non-European to do so.
                 I was quite honored to be invited for the two months 'interaction' with the students and my time in Visva Bharati was a good time for me although India turned me 'in-side-out' and left me with a rawness about being human which I now can say plunged me deeper into myself and my work .. and would I do it again .. yes ... because I feel in finding my way in my art one needs 'wake-up' calls in life, like sign posts pointing you in your direction.
                 While I was in Bharati I heard about a sculptors camp that was to be the first to take place in Bhopal, which is the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and so I felt destiny was tempting me that I could not let it pass without asking if I could take part, that was not a problem because with me there they could then call in an International Symposium but what was the problem I was to fly back to Ireland two days before the event was to take place and not thinking about my other commitments back in Ireland I tore up my plane ticket and bought a train ticket for the one and a half days train journey to Bhopal from West Bengal. I felt I had to go to Bhopal and 'cut' stone.
                   If you ever want to do something in your life that you will never forget take a train ride in India .. you won't be bored and there is always someone who will want to talk to you. I saw 'miracles' take place on the train .. like the 'blind musician' beggar singing his way down the aisle of the train only to be 'cured' when we had reached the next station where he got off to board the next train back to the station he got on. This might take place several times during the day and maybe on every day of the week. A 'good begger' could take in a nice amount of money depending on their 'talents' and children were always a winner.  
                There is a huge sign in Calcutta main train station, 
letters must be at least four feet high and in red which reads ...
When I first saw this sign I was beginning to know what India was about and my feelings were telling me that India was all about 'survival',  physical and spiritual .. survival for the people in any form that it comes in and if that meant 'privately' transporting explosives on the train ... then it was going to happen, but that didn't stop them bringing goats onto the train or hens only to be standing or sitting in the aisle beside you with an 'expression' on their face 'all's good'. The trains make for an interesting journey of the life in India on a normal day.
                  I arrived in Bhopal train station in the afternoon, and what I remember the most, apart from the crowds of people milling around others sitting or sleeping on the platforms with their cases tied to their ankles ... the children playing and others watching me with amusement and let's not forget the packs of roaming dogs looking for anything to eat and the station workers waiting for the cow to move itself off the tracks before the train could move off ... was the heat, and it was hot and that's the way it was for the next two months with no rain, from early morning to some relief at night, but not much. I have always worked in countries that were hotter than Ireland at any time of the year and India after Africa was the biggest test for me but once I settled in mentally and physically I was better coping with it better than the locals ...
and truthfully, I loved it. It made me feel alive.
                 Rajasthan Sandstone ... do not be fooled by the name ... on being told I will be working in sandstone I thought things were looking up in that I could pace myself in working the stone in the heat ... but how wrong I was? ... way off the mark. This 'sandstone' is extremely hard and the only way I was comfortable 'happy' in  working the stone was by 'punch' technique with hand tools ..
 so I was in for long days of  'punching' out the form in the stone. When working in this way, from the start it's best to know exactly what you want to do with the stone, and at the best of times this method of working was proving very exhaustive physically and frustrating in that the 'finished' sculpture must be kept in the mind during the working of the stone and more so when the sculpture has to be finished by a certain date and if panic sets in it can all become very messy ... so ... what work's for me is that it's best to work but look more at the stone, if nothing else you are in control until 'creativity' enters and then 'control' goes out the door ... as it should be. In the process of making my sculpture I can find new emotions in myself that can take control in the art but lose them when I leave the work. 
                      I knew nothing of Bhopal before arriving there but it was only when I was there ... and asking ... why was I seeing, quite a number of deformed people in Bhopal. People were very surprised that I had not heard of the 'Bhopal gas tragedy', as it is known locally. The city of Bhopal attracted international attention after the disaster rather than before, and all because when Union Carbide India Limited, a pesticide manufacturing plant leaked a mixture of deadly gases including methyl isocyanate around mid-night of the 2th of December 1984 leading to the worst industrial disaster in the history of industrialization and the loss of thousands of lives in the explosion, the exact number is still not known. Now I had the theme for my sculpture and my reason for staying back in India and going to Bhopal ... it was my destiny to make this sculpture for the people who no longer will find the answers or the powers-to-be taking action to bring justice.
                       Like all of my sculptures outside of Ireland there was to be no hint of  'Irish-ness'  to the work and must be what the local people can understand and relate too and so, in looking at the stone it gave me my direction by it's natural colouring of rust red. The two deep rust coloured areas on the stone were looking more like 'fish heads' each day to me, and that was my starting point ... 
now I had an idea finished in my mind and a stone that was called a sandstone that needed a new life that would bring hope to people who wanted justice done. 
                 When the creativity is there and your 'reason for being' the confidence grows each day and the physical and mental strength matches it that I know inside that this is what life is all about for me ... the making of my art for a cause ... 
         The message in this sculpture is about Life, Hope and Birth. The egg is symbolic of all life forms beginning in an egg and then exploding into a life form in the two fish, the 'two' being symbolic of procreation and the fish a reminder to us that most life forms including human beings begins it's journey in water. 
                    To me it's a sculpture that I feel most people, even with no understanding of art could understand the meaning behind the message in the sculpture when looking at it .... as I feel it was for the women who lived at the edge of the lake where I was working that brought me strong sweet tea everyday in the afternoon ... 
they understood 'SHRISTI'.

 View the Video  

A 'Thank You' came in a poem written on completion
of the sculpture.

A Fish - Symbol of Existence

A charming eyed fish solitary
Beauteous rosy smile with glory
As though its splendors of entity
fragrance and prettiness harmony
I see, I think its rare treasure
Unconfined wholly beyond any measure
One who creates here truly
with a great eminent goal lovely
Becoming rapidly environment regulation
Indeed a major issue for corporation
fresh and pure water are gradually becoming rare
grave health hazard pollution is everywhere
Today man has disturbed nature balance
This symbol to raise awareness for co-existence
Surroundings poses a danger for life
Like fish, without water how we live
To enlighten human beings as a
strong artistic weapon
This energetic artist's performance
illustrate the art for cause and beneficence.

Composed by Mrs Kanto Shukla
24 March 2002
Poetess of India.

''The suffering continues
so does the struggle ..
let us not forget Bhopal 
and the people worldwide 
who suffer just to live.''

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SHRISTI - Life in Creation. by daf is licensed under a  

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Based on a work at