How creative can you get with a piece of chalk besides scribbling on a board? Moreover, it is reduced to dust after use. But here is an artist, Shridhara S for whom a chalk piece is not just another material but a source of inspiration and a beacon of hope. This artist has carved 1,050 elephants that are just one centimetre long in different colours on chalks. His feat got him an entry into the Limca Book of Records earlier this year. Shridhara who is currently working as an art teacher in Bishop Cotton Boys’ School is also looking for support from individuals and organisations to add more feathers to his cap.
When asked him what inspired him to take up the project of carving elephants on pieces of chalk, he said, “As I work in a school, I have to constantly monitor children especially during exams. In order to keep myself occupied, I would take a piece of chalk and carve it to pass time.” Mesmerised by the beauty of giant elephants in Mysore Zoo, he decided to carve elephants on chalks.
It was not an easy task for him to carve animals initially as he had to give it a perfect look not losing out on any of its features including ears, trunk, tail, tusk and other parts of its body. According to him, patience, creativity, concentration and perseverance helped him to achieve wonders in his life. His patience was tested when he carved 1,050 elephants as nearly 2,000 chalks were damaged while carving. “Over a period of time, carving had a negative impact on my eyes as it involves a lot of intricate and detailed work. I took over six minutes to carve each elephant and spent over three hours everyday on this project,” he added. He has carved elephants with pink, white, purple, green, blue, orange and yellow chalks by using just a ball pin and blade.
When asked about the nature of the theme, he said, “The intention behind choosing elephants was to spread awareness on how important it is to protect them as they are a part of our environment. Human beings have encroached their habitat. Hence, it is our duty to protect them as they are a gift of nature.” Through these carvings, he often tries to convey the message ‘Save Elephants and Save Jungle.’
Apart from his art works, his hand made replica of currency notes also earned him a place in Limca Book of Records in the year 2008. He drew over 40 different currencies and stamps from countries like India, Malaysia, Nepal, England, America, Saudi Arabia and others without using any mechanical instruments or lenses. “On April 1, I played a prank with my friends by painting two different currencies on one note. Spotting my talent, one of my friends encouraged me to paint notes with just water colours, brush and a pencil.”
Encouragement from school authorities and family helped him to achieve what he is today. This artist who spends two or three hours on his art works every day said that he would carve Ganesha on soap. He also expressed his discontent over the fact that though the current generation is enthusiastic about art and craft, many parents refuse to encourage students to take up art as a subject.
“Parents appreciate art work but they are hesitant to let their children explore their potential in the field of art and craft,” said Sridhara.