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Nek Chand’s Rock Garden at Renew Rooms

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‘The Collection, the Ruin and the Theatre’ – Architecture, sculpture and landscape in Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, Chandigarh at the RENEW Rooms April 16 – May 11 2007.

Soumyen Bandyopadhyay and Iain Jackson (not me) along with other members of Liverpool University School of Architecture have spent the last 3 years researching and assembling this fascinating exhibition, probably the best I’ve seen at Renew Rooms, I’m certainly going back again for another look. (Opens on Monday April 16)

There’s some beautiful objects and its an interesting story, here’s the details..

The city of Chandigarh, as well as being planned by Le Corbusier is home to ‘The Rock Garden’, a sculpture park that has emerged out of the city’s detritus and composed partially from the gathered fragments of the villages that once occupied the site. The Rock Garden was built by Nek Chand, a self-taught artist. It has been under construction since 1958, initially illegally, as it occupies government land set aside as part of the city’s greenbelt.

The garden now contains over 3000 sculptures and an array of architectural works set within 18 acres of landscaped gardens. The garden initially began as a collection of stones arranged in a
forest clearing adjacent to the stores where Nek Chand worked as a road inspector. He continued to gather other man-made objects that he used as sculpting materials and in particular used broken ceramics and glass bangles, as well as found stones, electrical components and glassware.

He worked for fourteen years, in secret, before the authorities eventually discovered his garden.
According to Chandigarh’s strict planning rules the garden should have been immediately demolished, however following public support the garden was finally made legal in 1976.

Nek Chand was released from his employment as a city road inspector and was given a salary as well as a workforce to enable him to complete his vision. He is now eighty-two and still
works on the garden daily.

This exhibition is the product of three years research, spent carefully recording, cataloguing and surveying the contents of the garden that were previously unknown.
The exhibition contains architectural drawings of the garden – a world first, as well as various photographic studies, a short film and “QuickTime Virtual Reality models