A masterstroke: New additions to Sobha Singh museum shed light on the hand holding the brush - Hindustan Times
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A masterstroke: New additions to Sobha Singh museum shed light on the hand holding the brush

By, Palampur
Mar 25, 2024 06:24 AM IST

Family of the late artist have donated more works to the facility, located in the picturesque Andretta village, 11 km from Palampur, in the Kangra valley

Tourists, art enthusiasts, students and researchers visiting the Sobha Singh Art Gallery and Museum will now have the opportunity to explore new artefacts, providing a deeper insight into the artist’s personality after the addition of new artefacts to the collection.

UK-based art conservator Ian Barrand inaugurated the refurbished sections of Sobha Singh Museum on Saturday (HT Photo)
UK-based art conservator Ian Barrand inaugurated the refurbished sections of Sobha Singh Museum on Saturday (HT Photo)

Family of the late artist have donated more works to the facility, located in the picturesque Andretta village, 11 km from Palampur, in the Kangra valley.

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The facility houses around five dozen original paintings by Sardar Sobha Singh, a prominent 20th century artist. The complex was designed by the artist himself with a sign on the masthead “Grow More Good”, which also sums up his philosophy on art and life. Within the art gallery complex Sobha Singh Museum was inaugurated in March 2011.

For the first time since Sobha Singh’s passing in 1986, numerous new artefacts and personal belongings were showcased at the dedicated museum.

UK-based art conservator Ian Barrand inaugurated the refurbished sections of Sobha Singh Museum on Saturday.

“The additions will give more insights about his multidimensional personality,” Dr Hirday Paul Singh, the artist’s grandson said. The new display includes Zeiss icon camera, photo albums, camera flash, two tape recorders, calculator, infrared lamp, brochures, diaries, favourite brushes and paints of the artist by Winson and Nuton brand, palettes, painting tools, etc.

The family of the late artist, which manages the gallery and museum has also decided to display long preserved clothes worn by the artist like his gown, kurta, pyjama, socks, cardigans and other woollens. The artist himself purchased quality stationery items like drawing pencils, erasers, scales, label printing machine, colour slides, etc which will be displayed. Similarly, his hair dryer, hearing aids, spectacles, denture cleaning brushes, combs, nail cutter, nail foil, heater, kettle, bedside glass, tumbler, thermos, gift items will be new additions in museum.

His visiting cards, SBI passbook, passport, air ticket to London, time piece rubber stamp, looking glass, gift items and other souvenirs will also be displayed. Some letters to the artist by the President of India Maharaja Yadvinder Singh, Prithvi Raj Kapur etc are already on display.

The family plans to publish an exclusive book of letters received and written by the artist to his friends, VVIPS and prominent institutions like SGPC, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Lok Sabha secretariat, Army regiments, etc which commissioned his works world over.

One of the greatest Indian artists of the 20th century, S Sobha Singh was born on 29 November, 1901, at Sri Hargobindpur (Gurdaspur), Punjab. It was here that he learned to draw and sculpt. In 1905, his mother Bibi Acchran died. His father S Deva Singh died in 1917. He mastered painting by self-practice. He joined the British Indian Army as a draughtsman and was posted at various places in Iraq. He studied European paintings and got inspiration from the works of English painters.

The museum displays the life journey of the artist in around 150 photographs. Besides artefacts, some of his personal belongings like brushes, paints, books, beds, chairs, sticks, radio, clothes and other memorabilia are preserved here. The fibreglass statue showing the artist sitting on a chair is another attraction which was made to commemorate his birth centenary in 2001.

“Many people are not aware that Sobha Singh was also a good sculptor. Some of his works in plaster of paris are on display as well. The bust of Prithvi Raj Kapur, doyen of film industry and close friend of the artist, adorns the outer wall of the museum and another bust of Dr MS Randhawa sits snuggly in the art studio whereas works like ‘Sassi Punnun’, love legend of undivided Punjab and Prof Nirmal Chander, a philosopher friend of the artist can be seen in the museum. The artist had also made a bust of famous Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam which was gifted to her,” said Dr Hirday Paul Singh.

The artist was fond of ink pens and one can have glimpse of several Parker, steadtler and Sheaffer pens purchased by the artist or gifted to him. The artist used to listen morning and evening Sikh prayers on his radio-cum-record player which is displayed along with LP records of Sukhmani and Japji Sahib and Rehras. His love for classical instrumental and vocal music is preserved in LP records of Prof V.G.Jog, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Begum Akhtar and K.L.Sehgal.

Besides a singer sewing machine worth 232 purchased on instalments by the artist in 1932 for his wife Bibi Inder Kaur, kitchen utensils, crockery, silverware and other utility items are well preserved in the museum in a separate corner dedicated to artist’s wife Bibi Inder Kaur.

Other household goods like fans, tin boxes, briefcases, office bags, locks, wooden designs, frames, chandeliers etc are also displayed here.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Dar Ovais is the Dharamshala-based correspondent in the Himachal Pradesh bureau of Hindustan Times. He covers politics, tourism, Tibetan affairs and environmental issues.

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