Interview: Sculptor Usha Ramachandran/ Sushma Sabnis
Veteran artist, sculptor Usha Ramachandran, prepares fervently for her upcoming solo, ‘Movement-Essence of life’ at the India International Centre, New Delhi from 23rd September to 30th September 2014. She squeezes in a few minutes to talk about her work, life and inspirations at being an artist and sculptor and following one’s dream, in an interview with Sushma Sabnis.
Sushma Sabnis: What is the inspiration for your works of art?
Usha Ramachandran: Motivation or inspiration for my work, to tell the truth, is the pleasure I derive from creating them. I enjoy making art enormously and there can be no greater motivation.
SS: Did you have any formal or informal training in your formative years as an artist?
UR: I had very good art teachers in Kendriya Vidyalaya where I finished my schooling.
SS: Do you see yourself as a self taught artist? Do you have any mentors/guides?
UR: Since I did not attend any art class in any any institution devoted to training artists I am more or less self taught. I did ask questions and clear doubts whenever I met a receptive artist and read up and ‘googled’ a lot 🙂 .You get most of the information you need from internet now.
As far as sculptures are concerned V Satheesan is my teacher. He happened to come to my exhibition of paintings at Gorki Bahavan herein Trivandrum in 2009 and when he mentioned that he is a sculptor I told him my desire to sculpt. He readily agreed to teach me. By watching him work I learned what hard work is! In less than a year he told me my works are good enough to be shown to the public. He taught me how to hold an exhibition too. He is a fine teacher who teaches without holding anything back as well as a great artist. I got my state award ‘Honorable Mention for Sculpture’ the same year.
I consider myself lucky to have met well known sculptor K S Radhakrishnan at my first sculpture exhibition at Vylopilly Sanskrithy Bhavan. He has been a great encouragement to me. His words and actions boosted my self-confidence. He offered me all help in pursuing my interest in sculpting. I value his advice. I cannot explain how helpful he is in spite of being so busy .I sincerely feel he is a model artist. I think of him as someone I can turn to for help and guidance.
SS: In your sculptures, there are nuances of everyday lives of people. What do you deem as raw material for your art works?
UR: To tell the truth I have lots of ‘ideas’ -‘pictures’ running in my mind. Very often I start work with wax and let the moment decide what it shall be. I do collect photographs that touched me, or interested me. I may use them some times. At times I draw and keep what I want to sculpt one day- -some thing I saw on the street or field or somewhere else…
SS: Movement features many times in your art works, are there any implications in any way for the viewer and for yourself?
UR: Moving things interest me .I feel there is music and rhythm in all movements. There is music in the movement of athletes, the farmer in the feild, the flight of the birds, the dhobi that washes the cloths at the river, the baby in the womb, everything that moves! Movement is life. Stillness denotes the opposite.
Very often the visitors who come to my exhibition touch my works and ask me “how come you make sculptures that are on the move”? The choice is unconscious.
SS: Do you feel trained artists find it easier to articulate and perfect their visual language better than a self taught artist?
UR: Trained artists certainly start off with an advantage. Artists like me perfect their work by trial and error. But very often I feel the trained ones find it difficult to let go of the ‘training’ they have had in their thought process and execution of their work.
SS: What are birds metaphors of in your sculptures?
UR: The bird in the first picture is a story teller. It is entertaining the man with its intriguing tales.Hope I caught the expression on the man’s face.The owl is a fascinating bird …with myths and fears associated with it in our culture. The wise owl,the bird of the night,the bird which is the vehicle of Lakshmi….etc. The Dove , of course is a symbol of peace- which puts us at ease when we watch it going about its business…..As I said earlier, I do not consciously go about creating images that refer to movement. Very often I let the wax create its own imagery. The final product somehow very often is associated with movement.
SS: Do you intend your sculptural works to be social / historical/ personal markers for depicting contemporary life of that era?
UR: I work because it is something which I enjoy tremendously. I want my viewers to get the same feeling. This can happen only if they can relate to my work. Those who buy my work should feel the same thing as they glance at them in their homes. As such my work depicts contemporary life. The life I lived as a child in middle class India or now in this ‘global ‘modern world. They are not driven by sophisticated thoughts but the very ordinary occurrences in our lives.
SS: Please tell us about Movement – Essence of Life, the show?
UR: ‘Movement—Essence of Life’ is my latest exhibition. I have included my latest works in this show. It is organized by India International Centre. This is my first show at Delhi. I am really looking forward to this show .I would love to see how the educated and wise people of the capital look at my work.
SS: What is the medium used for the sculptures on display and is it your preferred medium?
UR: I use mostly Bronze for my sculptures’ have worked in Wood too. I like to work in wood . I have done works in fiberglass also. But I am including only bronze works in this show.
SS: Please tell us briefly about your art practice and process of making an art work?
UR: I have no fixed time for working on art. I juggle many activities. But I prefer to work late at night or early in the morning when it is calm and quite.
I do all the work related to my art on my own other than getting the wax work cast in bronze, which is done at a workshop here by an experienced bronze caster by traditional methods.
SS: What would your message be for young aspiring artists of today?
UR: I am in no position to give advice to the young of today for I really admire their focused outlook. They are lot more professional and balanced than we were. However there is one thing I would like to tell the young..remember time flies .So don’t waste it if you want to get anything done do it NOW.