Turning junk into objects of beauty

November 24th, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 24 (IANS) Automobile parts, nuts and bolts, metal scrap, discarded wood and even domestic waste is not junk for artist Ilyas Ahmed. They are a rich source of raw material to be cut, chiselled and welded into giant dinosaurs or a modern day Robocop.All that Ahmed, a self-made artist, needs to turn waste into beautiful artefacts is a simple cutter, a chisel and a welder. Of course to give shape to his imagination, the 33-year-old Bangalore man spends up to 12 hours a day in his workshop “chiselling and refashioning junk into various models”.

His seven-day exhibition of 20 sculptures, held at the gallery of Chitrakala Paristha here, drew thousands of visitors who showered praise on Ahmed - for the 10-ft tall dinosaur and the latest models of bikes and cars. Eighteen of the displayed artefacts made of junk have been sold and will soon adorn the houses of the buyers. The exhibition ended Sunday.

Children, particularly, were awestruck to watch not only the dinosaur but a Robocop and a predator.

Also on display were a giant spider, cheetah, tiger and elephant.

Ahmed told IANS that he sourced the junk from household waste, garages and factories.

“In waste also I find wealth. All my work has been handcrafted and sculptured with intricate assembling. I collect all the thrown away objects from various households, garages and factories in Bangalore and use them for my artworks,” he said.

“Although I have to spend around 10-12 hours a day in my workshop, chiselling and refashioning junk for my various models, it gives me immense satisfaction as I am not only turning out beauty out of waste, but also saving the environment from getting polluted,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed’s workship is located at New Thippasandra, about 12 km from the city centre.

He has admirers in the US, Britain, Japan, Italy and Singapore and sells his artworks to them. Till date, he has sold around 150 of his sculptures in foreign shores, Ahmed said.

The price ranges from Rs.2,000 to Rs.500,000.

Ahmed has exhibited his works seven times in Bangalore and once in Dubai. He plans to hold similar exhibitions across the country, but is looking for curators to take the entire responsibility of holding the exhibitions.

“I am too busy with my creativity, thus holding such exhibitions takes away a good amount of time. So, I would like art curators to step in and take the responsibility of holding exhibitions,” he said.

Ahmed’s foray into the art world started as a hobby when he was in his teens. Over the years it has turned into a passion.

It was during his stint as a 19-year-old welder at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, that Ahmed discovered his latent talent.

After some time he joined Merck and Company, an oil exploration firm. It was during his long journeys in ships that he used to spend several hours pursuing his dream as a lot of junk material for his artwork was readily available in ships, he said.

“While working at Merck and Company, a co-worker encouraged me a lot and also taught a lot about how pieces of nuts, bolts, springs, cans and other scrap could be chiselled to give them the shape of sculptures,” said Ahmed.

After mastering the craft, Ahmed now teaches 12 children to turn junk into nuggets.

“It’s amazing to see such huge pieces of art work done finely from mere scrap. Ahmed is an artist of great sensibility. I am simply mesmerised by all the sculptures displayed at the gallery,” said Robin Shetty, a city-based physician.

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