Wizard of wee wonders

Sometimes, if a piece gets damaged midway, Abhiram transforms it into something different, a new piece that spontaneously appears in his mindscape.
Thiruvananthapuram resident Abhiram Suresh.
Thiruvananthapuram resident Abhiram Suresh.

KOCHI: Art always begins with a spark — a touch of creativity. What follows is many stages of trial and error, endless tweaks, and a great deal of dedication. Finally, it all comes together, and perseverance pays back, into a masterpiece.

It’s no secret that this process demands serious patience and a keen eye for detail, as every piece goes through countless revisions to form that shape, that point where perfection seems achievable. Now, when the medium is something as fragile as chalk, things get even trickier. It requires pinpoint precision and the skills of a magician.

Thiruvananthapuram resident Abhiram Suresh is one of them, a chalk-sculpting wizard who transforms ordinary classroom chalk into stunning works of art. With finesse and flair, he gives life to these fragile sticks.

It all started when Abhiram was in Class VII. Students were playing around, throwing chalk during a free period. And one stray piece accidentally landed on his desk. A bored Abhiram started chiselling it down using the compass in his trigonometry box into a heart. An artist was born that day.

“My family has an artistic background. My mother, in particular, has always been very interested in it. She was the one who pushed my limits and helped shape me into the artist I am today. When I first showed her my chalk sculpture, she immediately encouraged me to pursue and develop my skills using every method available. My uncle, a soap sculptor, also inspired me greatly. He always urged me to use creativity to achieve the impossible, create something unique, and explore different mediums,” the 21-year-old says.

Abhiram Suresh's chalk work
Abhiram Suresh's chalk work

Using needles, the youngster has created chalk sculptures of cinema artists, cartoon characters, religious figures, animals, etc.

To date, he has made around 50 such miniature sculptures.

“The biggest challenge while working with chalk is its fragility. Somet i m e s , t h e chalk would crumble during the process. In the early days, I used to feel heartbroken whenever a piece broke. however, as I have developed as an artist and practised extensively over the years, I have learned how to handle it properly, knowing where it might break, where to touch, and where to be extra careful,” explains the artist.

Sometimes, if a piece gets damaged midway, Abhiram transforms it into something different, a new piece that spontaneously appears in his mindscape.

“What used to be heartbreaking has now become an inspiration. each time a chalk breaks, it pushes me to be more persistent and create a better version of the artwork.” Abhiram is now a student at the College of Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture. his artistic skills have expanded beyond chalk to wood and clay. “In college, teachers emphasise the importance of studying the medium before diving into the work. Understanding details like how long it takes to dry and the techniques to perfect it has helped me wo rk w i t h c h a l k a s w e l l , ” h e smiles.

Apart from his studies, the youngster also takes commission works, including writing names in chalk and creating drawings and oil and acrylic paintings. “I also make customised chalk sculptures in a glass bottle. It’s a complicated process. While some artists do similar work with pencils and attach them to the bottle cap, chalk can’t be fixed that way, so I use a nail instead and hide it using cotton to look perfect. I might be the first artist to make chalk sculptures in glass bottles,” he laughs.

his artistic endeavours go beyond the idea of creation. The artist also organises sculpting workshops and drawing classes for children from tribal communities and students with disabilities. he has been teaching for the past seven years now. And Abhiram focuses on teaching the basics first. “In many institutions, students gather, draw something together and go home. While it is not negative and does provide some practice, understanding the basics is far more important,” he feels.

Abhiram starts teaching by giving students clay to help them understand their skills. “Once they are comfortable with clay, I introduce them to chalk. This will help them understand their comfort level and skill in working with a delicate medium.” The key, he says, to understand them is to make them happy. “This will allow their inner talents to come out. There is always a positive e n v i r o n m e n t when working with students because they are always happy and playful. They are always active, which brings positive energy and keeps me active too. The parents of these students don’t necessarily want their children to become the best artists, they want them to be happy. And that is my focus — making them happy,” he concludes.

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The New Indian Express