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A masterpiece to fire your imagination

The smooth touch of an artist has taken the rough image of pottery beyond pots and lamps.

punjab Updated: Feb 26, 2013 00:20 IST
Ashpuneet Kaur Sandhu

The smooth touch of an artist has taken the rough image of pottery beyond pots and lamps.

The uneducated man, who by the magic of his hands turned clay into cannon, is shattered a few years after creating the masterpiece.

In hard times to make ends meet, Rampal, 65, continues to be attached to the art. "It is a gift from ancestors,” he says. Cannon is military equipment to launch projectile, and Rampal's feat is that he has made it with clay instead of gun metal. His masterpiece is an object of attraction to people passing by his shop here but official recognition to the art has not come his way.

Rampal is in the pottery business for the past more than 20 years. "The inspiration to make a cannon came from a picture of the field gun on a calendar three years ago. It took almost four months to bring it to shape” said the artist. “I made five cannons, of which I sold two. Another two were broken and now only one original is left. Many people came to buy it but I told them I was keeping it, because fine art is not created every day.”

He wanted to make more such military equipment out of clay but the reward would not have matched the time invested. No efforts is made by the state government to preserve and encourage this art. "Our coming generations will no adopt this profession” said Rampal. “In a few years, clay art will be dead."

During rains, many of the artists' new creations are destroyed, and the washed clay cannot by reused. There is no insurance scheme to recover the loss. "I declined to sell the cannon to even an army officer who was struck by its beauty," said Rampal, "but most decoration pieces in his house are from my shop. Artists don't work for money but inner peace and satisfaction. A little appreciation can help create more masterpieces, but it didn’t come my way.”

A few years ago, the hand-made cannon made it to top in a competition at the President’s house in New Delhi. Because the artist didn't have an identity card, he could not go into the final round.