Garbage to Gold
For several hours in a day, Harminder Singh Boparai can be seen fussing over an odd mix of items in his workshop: discarded pots and pans, a broken cycle chain and car engine parts, to name a few.
A resident of village Ghudani Kalan, district Ludhiana, and a lively arts teacher at a private school in the city, the 32-year-old spends his free time figuring out how to transform such trash into admirable art.
He finds beauty at unlikely places —– in waste bins and garbage dumps – and uses his magic touch to turn the objects of his fancy into three-dimensional figurines. For instance, a sculpture depicting a bee on a flower uses castaway cooler fans for petals and discarded footrests of a scooter for the bee’s wings.
For a sculpture symbolising two dancing girls, the artist has used old milk containers for the girls’ dresses supported by twisted iron rods for limbs.
A figurine of two black-and-white ladybirds and another symbolising a mother-child duo are creative and thoughtful combinations of discarded cooking pans.
These are just a few of the nearly 500 pieces created by him out of waste, mostly
metal scrap. “What seems unappealing or quirky to others is inspiration to me. My art is also my way to conserve nature by recycling metal,” he says.
A trained sculptor from Tac Academy of Fine Arts, Harminder boasts of several awards including Silver Minar award, the highest in the art category, at the Delhi International Film Festival early this year; a gold medal in zonal level competitions by Punjabi University, Patiala and Appreciation Award by Lalit Kala Akademi, Chandigarh, 2011. Many of his works have found space in galleries in India and abroad.
Along with his passion for all things discarded, Harminder is also a compulsive hoarder. Given his habit to not give away old possessions, he continues to work with his 40-year-old tractor on his farm.
Amritpal Singh, with his ability to carve out a chess set as tiny as measuring 22 mm x 22 mm, forms part of the roster of these lovers of quirk. The 27-year-old woodwork artist had even sent his miniature creation to the Guinness Book of World Records in England a couple of years ago but, much to his disappointment, the authorities replied that the category had been dropped.
“The world record for the tiniest chess is in the name of Mani Kandan of Tamil Nadu who had made 24 mm x 24 mm chessboard,” he tells us. However, Armitpal has since scaled newer heights in his art. A 60 mm x 60 mm chessboard that sits inside a glass bottle with 15 mm diameter, created in 2009, is a testimony to that. For this feat, Amritpal listed his name in the Limca Book of Records in 2010.
Sharing the secret to creating this marvel, he explains the tedious process: how he dropped 64 blocks of equal size into the bottle, in colours of coffee and cream, and completed the piece in 15 days. “Using a tool, I can even play chess inside this bottle,” he says.
A third generation chess set artist in the family from Amritsar, Amritpal says it was his wish to be different from his ilk that made him look for innovations in the family tradition.
With wood as his muse, Amritpal has gone beyond carving out chess pawns and sets. A miniature one-and-a-half inch blender — that works! — is one of its kind.
A teetotaller bard from Dhuri, Patiala, Sukhwinder Singh Lottey, paints verses on the inside of a liquor bottle, a skill that has earned him acknowledgement from the India Book of Records. Early this year, at a festival at Indira Gandhi Kala Kendra, Noida, he even claimed a record for writing the fastest poem inside a bottle: in less than five minutes. Lottey, an automobile electrician, has written 45 poems in various languages inside liquor bottles with the help of special
brushes and colours.
Interestingly, this 48-year-old who is yet to finish college, has reproduced poetic verses in Urdu, Russian, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, and an African language.
It all began when Lottey wrote a poem “Main sharaab haan, main bari kharaab haan; mainu naa pee, sukhi jeevan jee (I am liquor, I am very bad; do not drink me and live happy)” against drinking. Hoping that the effect of the verses will increase when written on the inside of a liquor bottle, he tried his hand at it. And was instantly recognised for this distinguished work.
In the adjoining city of Amritsar, a group of artists bond over an urge to create unique art, one that finds no parallel in the state. It was this urge that made businessman Gurpreet Singh, 32, take up paper art as a hobby. And how? Once inspired, Gurpreet laboured for five months, seven hours daily, to create a paper replica of the intricate and magnificent Harmandar Sahab, meticulously moulding and cutting bits of ivory sheet to perfect detail.
As he marked the last finishing touches to his amazing creation last year, Gurpreet knew he had listed his name among the most distinguished artists in not only the state but also the country.
Gurpreet, winner of several national and international records, has repeated the feat several times over, giving birth to exquisite paper replicas of The Eiffel Tower, The Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa and The White House, among others.
He, along with three other artists who revel in quirk, works under the title of Wonder Art Club and often holds joint exhibitions in Amritsar.
Gurpreet first tried his hand at paper art after watching his younger brother prepare a paper model for a school subject.
Cracking good art
Harwinder Singh Gill, a dental hygienist by profession, joins the list with his awe-inspiring and rare art on eggshells.
He begins with pencil sketching a design on the delicate shell that has been carefully emptied of the egg white and yolk with a syringe, and carves out prominent faces, famous logos and even places of interest on the fragile piece.
Harwinder does this with patience and an electric rotary micro-meter, a tool that needs a high level of precision and care. “To create a portrait, it takes me around three-four hours a day,” says the resident of Amritsar, whose portraits of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama have garnered
Having registered his name in the Limca Book of Records four times, his best work remains the 10,000 tiny holes he poked into a fragile shell.
Hailing from Madhopur village, Harwinder relives the lost memories through another skill he is adept at: fashioning miniature objects of the everyday village life. Using his dental tools, he has carved over 500 detailed pieces.