While the Internet has drawn flak over the many ways it can be misused, 24-year-old Gowri can vouch for the benefits of the worldwide web. Gowri M N of Mysore became a professional sand sculptor after she learnt the art without a teacher, merely over the Internet.
In Vellore to participate in an exhibition scheduled to start on April 24, Gowri has prepared a 60-foot long, 15-foot high sculpture with the theme ‘Save Sea Animals’.
As many as 30 truckloads of sand were used for the sculpture that depicts a mermaid and 14 sea creatures like the octopus, tortoise, corals, starfish, jellyfish, squid, sting ray and dolphin. On how she got interested in sand art, she said,“After I saw pictures of sand art on the Internet, my interest was kindled and I wanted to learn it. I learnt the art without a teacher, just by picking up the techniques from the various websites,” says Gowri. Two years later, she started displaying her creations in Karnataka. She got much appreciation for sculptures displayed at exhibitions, flower shows and during Dussehra. She displayed a 11-foot creation of Ganesha at the Maratha Mandhir in Belgaum to spread awareness about the ills of using chemical paints and plaster of Paris, and encourage artists to use sand sculpture as an alternative from of art.
Gowri was the only Indian woman participant among 30 sand sculptors from across the world at the International Sand Art Festival, held at Chandrabhaga Beach in Konark, Orissa, in December last year. Her works, including Maitreya Budddha, a Kathakali dancer, stone chariot of Hampi, a tribal man riding a horse and others won much acclaim.
Gowri said, her father, who wanted her to take over his business of sheet-metal fabrication, forced her to take up BE (mechanical engineering). But she discontinued and took up a degree in fine arts at the Karnataka State Open University, in Mysore, and is all set to complete the course in a few months.
Three basic tips from Gowri: “Use wet sand. Start from the top – it is impossible to go back to the top once the lower portions are done. Have patience – parts of the sculpture may collapse and would have to be redone,” she says.
She also says working with sand during winter could irritate bare hands. “Sand can also cut the skin and lead to bleeding,” she said, adding that nothing, however, deterred her from pursuing the art.
Gowri’s art in Vellore is the fourth, following expos in Tiruchy, Erode and Coimbatore. “I now get immense support from my family and my dad chooses project offers,” Gowri said, adding that creating sculptures on famous beaches across the world was her ambition.