Italian sculptor Simona Bocchi recently spent a full year in India to explore the use of native materials with regard to stone sculpture.
My evolution as an artist, which draws me
towards the research, exploration and knowledge of materials - coupled with my
endless interest in exploring new places and world cultures - has now brought
me to the East. A meeting with the Italian Ambassador in India, Antonio Armellini, and the invitation to
exhibit my work at the Italian Embassy in New Delhi
in February 2009, have been the catalyst for a greater project: a year-long
experience in India.
This decision to work in India was brought on by a deep
interest and enthusiasm that’s always connected me to the Indian world. I was
seduced by the prospect of taking an unknown journey to further my craft,
entwined with the spiritual essence of a mystical place like India. I
imagined India, known as a highly expressive and contradictory land, treating
me to unique sights from distinct pulsating colors, to architectural and
sculptural wonders, to more severe images of the everyday fight for
survival.Travel to India
project was made possible and carried out thanks to a meeting with Sakandar
Singh, a representative of Harbhajan Marble in Udaipur, India, managed by his
brother Rimpu. Unfortunately, the beginning of my working period was considerably
delayed due to unforeseen difficulties dealing with Indian laws regarding the
shipment of my tools to India.
Indian Customs actually held the case containing all of my sculpting equipment
for two months. When they did allow my tools to be released, a considerable
clearance tax was requested.
In the meantime, I had the
chance to breathe a pleasant return to the traditional styles of sculptural
work. By rediscovering purely hand-working methods, I felt taken back in time.
I thought of Michelangelo Buonarrotti’s writings and how they described the use
of the marble blocks to carve David. The hand stone-carving tradition is
especially strong in Rajasthan. Wherever you turn, you can admire highly
refined sculptures. Hand chiseling enabled me to appreciate the slow
progression of work again; something you can miss out on nowadays with the use
of technical machinery. In fact, there isn’t a wide range of mechanical
equipment available in India but, despite this, the level of technical
expertise in marble carving is high.
One of Bocchi’s projects was a sculpture of the principal at Harbhajan Marble, which sponsored the sculptor in India.
you will find an incredible amount of highly colored marble materials of
different textures. Many seem at first to be easily workable, like Italian
marble, but then, within the same block, the consistency changes to such an
extent that completing the work of art becomes more
Up to now, the most interesting material I’ve
found in India
for sculpting purposes is the green and black Pareva marble. Answara is a
coarse-grained white marble. Pink Palodha is an interesting marble similar to
the Pink Portugal, with grey-black veins on a white background. Makrana is a
white marble used for Agra’s Taj Mahal - the “marble poem” par
Sandstone is another interesting material, both
for the color and the texture that brings to mind the desert immediately; that
silent, infinite place where all is empty, leaving to time the role of carving
shapes through the wind. Even if sandstone is a soft material, diamond disks tend
to burn out easily, so I suggest using Indian marble disks.
Due to India’s
mentality, it is very unusual to see a woman working in marble. During the
first days at the factory, where the majority of workers are male, there was
great curiosity in seeing me working with all these bizarre machines that
hardly anybody had ever seen before.
There are other things
to take into consideration when working in India. Cost of labor is very
inexpensive so they considered it reasonable for an assistant to do the work
for me. It was quite difficult for me to explain that this was my passion, and
that nobody could take my place because my creations evolved as time went by.
The work pace is so different from Western rhythms. For example, sometimes
power can be cut off for hours, without a fixed time schedule or length. When
this happens, you just have to stop and wait, and nobody knows for how long.
Comparisons to European
“Hand chiseling enabled me to appreciate the slow progression of work again; something you can miss out on nowadays with the use of technical machinery,” Bocchi said.
Compared to my Norway work experience, where I took
part at the Sculpture Symposium in Os during June 2007, my work in India has
been focused on researching unknown materials and experimenting, which requires
a considerable amount of time. This exploration can appear to seemingly lead
nowhere at times, but it does produce incalculably enriching results. The
Symposium’s fixed time schedule makes you cut time down to achieve maximum
performance. Creations are monumental, so it is very important to program work
well ahead of time.
In India, all is diluted and slowed
down. The flow of time is devoted to the pleasure of creating in solitude. The
most fascinating aspect of the Symposium in Norway was working and living with
many other artists. We were able to share each other’s frame of mind, watch
each work of art being created, and share its progress. Artists from all over
the world meet for this conference to blend traditions, cultures, techniques,
moods - and most of all, the same passion for sculpture.
Meanwhile, in Italy, we not only have some of the world’s
best marble quarries - those of well-known statuary marble and Bianco Carrara
P, which are extremely pure, compact materials - we also have unique and
marvelous scenery that would enchant any visitor. Each country holds a unique
charm for me. They always inspire in me new and different ways that meld
together to form one sole truth. This love I have for materials surprises me
I recommend that every artist experience
something like what I’m now living in India. Art is an expression without
a single home; an expression that comes from the heart is freedom’s only
source, and it is that display of the divine that lives in each one of
Harbhajan Marble owns two marble quarries in Italy
and one in Greece. In Italy,
the company extracts Botticini (in Brescia) and
Perlatino (in Trapani, Sicily). Both materials are exported
worldwide, and they are used by the interior design community in India. The
company’s quarry in Greece exports white marble to
Harbhajan Marble works in a range of unique
materials, including materials such as Tiger’s Eye, Lapis Lazuli and petrified
wood - among other exotic stones from locales around the world - as well as
precious stones quarried in India.
“We are honored to work
with Simona Bocchi on her creative journey to India. This relationship has
greatly enhanced our experience in the marble industry and has motivated us to
expand our participation in it,” stated Sakandar Singh. “I hope more companies
will choose to be involved in supporting art worldwide, and that the dialogue
between enterprise and creative mind remains alive.”