Famous ornithologist Salim Ali had named his autobiography as 'The Fall of a Sparrow'. Decades later after his book came to fore, an Ujjain-based artist has made sparrows rise from waste paper shreds, and that too using worn-out editions of Ali's 'The Book of Indian Birds' for photographic precision.
Sculpted in their actual size in papier mâché, and painted in their true colours, these birds appear almost alive.
"Ours is a family of sculptors. From my childhood, making lifelike birds was my passion. I used Salim Ali's book for reference. It not only guided me about the colour of birds, but also about their actual size.
Taking measurements intermittently, I sculpt the birds in papier mâché using natural colours that don't fade over time," says 35-year-old Trilok Thakur, who was in the town recently to participate in an international fair.
Though his family has been making statues of gods and goddesses, masks of animals, mythical characters, it was life-size birds that brought Thakur acclaim. Thakur is one of the few artists specialising in making paper papier mâché birds.
Over the years, Thakur has travelled with his avian figurines across the country, showcasing them in various fairs and exhibitions. According to Thakur, the government funded his trip to Dubai in 2007, where people marvelled at the realism of his mini sculptures.
Turning waste paper shreds into realistic figurines is not an easy job.
"First I sculpt a particular bird into clay, taking exact measurements and keeping in mind all the anatomical details. Then I make moulds of Plaster of Paris. Afterwards, papier mâché dough is put into the mould. After drying it, the moulded bird is smoothened with sandpaper. Then we paint the bird with natural colours, which we prepare ourselves according to requirement."
It takes him many days to sculpt a new bird. "You have to get the dimensions right. However, when I succeed in all this, the bird comes alive," says Thakur, who teaches other artists, after the death of his father Ramkumar Thakur two years ago.