Today is Diwali and on a day when people celebrate the victory of good over evil, and lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for mankind, it seems appropriate to look at Nek Chand’s contribution to the mosaic world.
Nek Chand Saini (1924-) is an Indian outsider artist, famous for building the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, a forty-acre (160,000 m²) sculpture garden in the city of Chandigarh, India. His family moved to Chandigarh, India in 1947 during the Partition. At the time, Chandigarh was being redesigned as a modern utopia by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. It was to be the first planned city in India, and Chand found work as a roads inspectors for the Public Works Department in 1951.
In his spare time, Chand began collecting materials from demolition sites around the city. He recycled these materials into his own vision of the divine kingdom of Sukrani, choosing a gorge in a nearby forest for his work. The gorge had been designated as a land conservancy, a forest buffer established in 1902 that nothing could be built on. Chand’s work was illegal, but he was able to hide it for eighteen years before it was discovered by the authorities in 1975. By this time it had grown into a twelve acre complex of interlinked courtyards, each filled with hundreds of pottery-covered concrete sculptures of dancers, musicians, and animals.
When Chand left the country on a lecture tour in 1996, the city withdrew his funding and vandals attacked the park. The Rock Garden Society took over the administration and upkeep of the world’s largest visionary environment. The garden is visited by over five thousand people daily, with a total of over twelve million visitors since its inception.
There is a conference scheduled for November 2007 .
Keeping the Dream Alive, An International Folk Art Conference, Chandigarh, India
November 6-11, 2007, Celebrating 30 years of operation for the public good: art, education and environmental awareness and the 10 year jubilee of the founding of the Nek Chand Foundation.
There will be four conference themes:
- Folk Art, what is it? who makes it? what do we call it? Outsider Art, L’Art Brut?
- Preserving Folk Art through education, including the preservation, maintenance and dissemination of Folk Art environments like the Rock Garden, private visions and fantasy worlds. Case studies are encouraged.
- Financing Folk Art projects – objectives, goals, grant writing, and how to ask for money for folk art projects. Case studies are encouraged.
- The role of the Press and Media and world folk art culture. How the press and media can help to preserve, foment and disseminate Folk Art and local cultural experiences.
In addition, there will be an exhibition of Folk Art and Self-Taught Art in the form of photographs from various sites and environments around the world. Additional conference topics and issues can include the importance of environmental education, recycling.
The conference embraces and uses the following terms in the art field: Contemporary Folk Art, Outsider Folk Art, Self-Taught Visionary Art, and L’art Brut.
If you think you can contribute or you want to go, click here.
Board and lodging at the Rock Garden is available for grime-busters, repairers, researchers and recorders.
Nek Chand has offered accomodation within the Rock Garden for groups of students or volunteers who like to spend 4 weeks at the Rock Garden. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time living and working in the heart of this incredible visionary environment. We need groups of 4-6 people willing to be in Chandigarh at the same time. If you are an individual looking to take this opportunity, we already have a number of other people keen to make up a group of conservation volunteers.
Check out the website for contact details.