India has started recognising sand artists: Sudarsan Pattnaik

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Swati Chandra | August 29, 2017 | NEW DELHI


#On a personal note   #Sudarsan Pattnaik   #sand art   #social issues  
(Photo: Facebook/@sudarsan.sandart)
(Photo: Facebook/@sudarsan.sandart)

Sudarsan Pattnaik’s association with sand art began when the artist was only nine years old. Born in a poor family in Puri, Odisha, Pattnaik faced a lot of hardship in his formative years which he believes is what brought him close to sand art. His art was first recognised in 1997 when he got a chance to participate in the international sand art festival. Thereafter, he participated in several such festivals and won accolades for India in more than 20 countries. He connects a social message in all his works. At the age of 40, the artist and the art have become synonymous in India. Besides several prestigious awards to his credit, Pattnaik was awarded Padma Shri in 2014.


What inspired you towards sand art?

I was always inclined towards painting and drawing. My childhood was full of struggle and art was where I found peace. There was no money in my family. I even worked as a labourer when I was a kid. I started discovering this art form from the age of nine. My house was close to the beach. Whenever I used to get some free time, the beach became my canvas. 
 
Who was your guru?
 
I had no guru. You can say I taught it to myself – practising every day on the beach. I did not know about the existence of any such art form in the professional sphere until I started carving sculptures with my own fingers.
 
We don’t have any professional course in sand art. What are your thoughts on that?
 
Yes, there are none in our country. But very soon the government will launch a certificate course in sand art at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). I have just finished designing the course structure for that. I am sure it will help many budding sand artists in our country.

Do you train people as well?
 
Yes, I provide training to artists through my open-air Golden Sand Art Institute at Puri beach since 1994. 
 
Your work is known for its aptness. How do you do that?
 
Importance of this unique and temporary art form lies in its powerful messages. I focus on the timeliness to convey a message. Sometimes our [Pattnaik’s and his students’] messages do yield results. We have recently raised voice for the cleanliness of Puri beaches in Odisha.
 
What are your future plans?
 
I am intending to open a sand art park or museum, like the one in Japan.
 
Does India treat its sand artists well?
 
It has started recognising them now. The Odisha government organises a sand art festival in December every year. We still have a long way to go compared to countries like the US, Canada and Germany. There is immense scope due to a large coastal area in the country.
 

(The interview appears in the August 16-31, 2017 issue of Governance Now)
 
 
 

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