A chance tryst with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale has earned a small-time boat builder and his two assistants here an opportunity to visit London. For, an installation the trio helped fix at the ongoing festival here is being shifted to a leading gallery in the British capital.
It was in December last year that Kochiite Simon Desilva was called in to the main venue of India’s pioneering contemporary-art event here. That was to solve a hiccup which Subodh Gupta faced in fixing his huge artwork in the run-up to the biennale.
A massive country-boat that formed the chief component of the Bihar-born artist’s work could not get into a hall in the Aspinwall House which was slotted to house the installation, much to the worry of Gupta.
At this, the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) came up with a solution. Local man Simon was summoned. The grey-haired but stout man promptly joined in with a couple of helpmates.
Soon, they went ahead with an idea that initially shocked many: split into two the boat which is 72 feet long and as wide as 11 feet in the middle. In one night, Simon’s team not only got the installation well under the roof; the boat was back in shape - stitched with coir ropes and minor gaps plugged with coconut husk.
“As professionals, it wasn’t much of a tough task,” recalls Simon. But Gupta was so impressed with the perfection in the job that he is now taking Simon and the two other apprentices to London. There, in the Hauser and Wirth gallery of contemporary art and modern masters, the trio will again work - this time to find Gupta’s installation its permanent place.
Simon is happy about the prospect of a free foreign trip. “I’m getting my old passport renewed,” he says, adding that his son Clement Desilva will substitute him in case the document does not come in time.