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Passion has gone out of image-making,Kumartuli sculptors rue

Kumartuli,the clay-modeller's colony,in the heart of the city,is once again witnessing frenzied activity with hundred-odd artisans busy giving final touches to idols of Goddess Durga.

Written by Agencies | Kolkata |
September 7, 2009 1:50:08 pm

Kumartuli,the clay-modeller’s colony,in the heart of the city,is once again witnessing frenzied activity with hundred-odd artisans busy giving final touches to idols of Goddess Durga who will begin her earthly sojourn on September 24.

But amidst the buzz in the maze of dingy lanes and by-lanes that make up Kumartuli,some clay-modellers the older ones especially – are unhappy. They rue the absence of passion in the art of clay-modelling these days.

Ever since big money came into clay-modelling after Goddess Durga’s idols began to be exported,the art has turned into commerce,regretted Nilmoni Pal,a veteran clay-modeller.

In late 60s before the export of idols started,each modeller put his soul into making an idol,Pal said. Samaresh Pal,another artisan,said,”Art is something more than a profession to us. We put our thoughts into life through facial expressions or physical gestures very much like an artist or a sculptor does.”

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Thinking is required if something unique is attempted,but today’s idol-makers have hardly the inclination as they are busy with thousands of orders,they said.

Last year,more than 12,000 images were shipped to the US,UK,Canada and Australia,they added.

Samaresh fears their art may die with them one day as the new generation is not keen to pursue clay-modelling any more and are looking for other pastures that fetch stable income.

“I love reading and want to join academics. Clay-modelling is not meant for me,” said Praloy Pal,son of one of the artisans.

Kakoli Pal,who joined the profession after her husband’s death six years ago,said she would not force her daughter to take up the job.

“No one knows the actual price of art. We determine the success of any creative work by the response it gets from an audience. But does this hold sense today?” Tapan Pal,another artisan said.

Another worry for the clay-modellers is the increase in the prices of raw materials like hay and paints with the prices up by 15 to 20 per cent this year,they said.

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