Draped in the simplest shawl, with hands clasped together gently, stands the bronze statue of the half-naked fakir, a name given to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi by Winston Churchill, quite disparagingly, in the 1930s. Wearing his traditional dhoti, Gandhi smiles unassumingly at the onlookers who pass by. But for now, all that is on paper. For it to find permanent place at the Parliament Square, London, Lord Meghnad Desai has set up the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust to raise money for the sculpture, especially from art fraternity. Curating an exhibition titled The Mahatma, Sunaina Anand of Art Alive Gallery commissioned 28 renowned artists to contribute works to help raise funds for the statue. “We gave the artists two months and requested them to play with themes surrounding the Mahatama. They used metaphors, symbols and icons to create art that reflected his philosophy. At the end, we got a fantastic collage of photographs, sculptures, drawings, charcoal works and more,” says Sunaina.
Priced between `55,000 and `40 lakh, works of artistes like M F Husain, Jogen Chowdhury, Raghu Rai, Jatin Das, Arpana Caur, Paresh Maity, Jagannath Panda, and others have been displayed. “This reaching out between India and the UK through these artists is only befitting because Gandhi belongs to the whole world,” says Desai. Adding to that, his wife Kishwar Desai believes that because Gandhi spent his early life not only in India but in London as well, the presence of Gandhi in the form of a statue there is symbolic of the philosophy that he stood for—one that was accepted by everybody from Nelson Mandela to Barack Obama.