Hut I stayed in whist doing stone sculpture
Introduction to stone sculpture
It was not long after the pilgrimage with a group of sculptors from Mamallapuram that I started a workshop as stone sculptors. We all survived the recent 2004 Tsunami event so there was a common bond between us . They were delighted to have some foreigner at the workshop that was next to the main retail outlet along the road to the famous Shore Temple. The sight of a foreign tourist chip away tended to draw a attention of the Indian tourists who frequent the place for heritage and the beach.
Day in the life of a stone sculptors
The day started with the obligatory sharing of spice tea, along with bring out an assortment of hand chisels and power tools, such as grinders, drills and sanders. These were all rigged up to a central power source through cables making their way to each sculptors work station. I was given a basic granite block and assigned to use hand chisels in a way that could bring out a basic form. It was usually after an hour of carving that the spice tea would again be poured and we would sit around and chat. The process of taking away chunks of rock so as to reveal a form took the whole day. It wasn’t easy because the rock was extremely hard, and care had to be taken so not to take off too much material. However many of the experienced stone sculptors used primarily power tools that were comparatively fast compared to the classic chisel. Also the use of designer power tool tips for etching detail, significantly speed up the process of creating complex patterned designs.
Stone sculptors creative designs.
The demand for stone sculpture is primarily for religious iconography. This is usually in the form of South Indian temple divinities such as Kartikeya (Murgan).
However there is a market for contemporary sculptural figurines too. This usually takes the forms of revered animals, such as the elephant, though there were a surprising amount of well know celebrated persons too, like Mahatma Gandhi, Western movie stars and political figures. Also one sculptor took this to another level by introducing a grass roots approach through the use of minimalism and the rural picturesque.
Sculpture linked to the Australian context.
The link to the Australian context was evident throughout the sculpture, possibly due to my interests in environmental ethics and philosophical issues in general (bio page). This interest that manifested through sculpture soon influenced my sculpture when I embarked on a new stage of an art practice at Mission Beach in 2006.