Artist of the soil
Art has a new medium — soil, yes the very soil you step on each day. Pioneering the art is Babu Edakkunni, an artist from Kerala who makes paintings. Babu, who has been using soil as a medium, claims he is the first person in the world to use soil and sand as his mediums.
Amongst his biggest feats is a painting of President APJ Abdul Kalam, which he presented to the President at Rasthrapati Bhawan recently. For the artwork, he collected 12 different types of soils from 20 locations all over India. The painting uses no colours, only various shades of soils — white and grey — besides different shades of sand.
He is inspired by traditional rangoli art from all over India. “I’m fascinated by kollam (as rangoli is called in Kerala) and wondered how I could improvise on it and do something new. So I started soil painting,” he says. The procedure involves spreading an adhesive on a smooth surface like plywood and sticking the soil on it.
The real test lies in mixing the different coloured soils proportionately. The advantage: even after years, soil and sand won’t fade.Babu experimented with the medium for the first time three years ago when he prepared a soil portrait of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar, made of soil from different locations of that country. The painting is preserved in the Qatar National Museum. So, who is next on his list? “Queen Elizabeth,” he says.