With over 70 honours and accolades to his credit, Sudam Pradhan has emerged as a well appreciated international sand artist and sand animator of Odisha as well as the country. Without any sort of technical training, Pradhan has not only mastered the art over the years but has also been doing his bit to spread awareness about serious social and global concerns through his work.
A freelance artist, Sudam is currently working as a creative and advertising consultant and is also the Brand Ambassador of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ at Nehru Yuva Kendra, Puri for Government of India. In an exclusive interview with My City Links, Sudam talks about his passion for sand art and his eventful journey over the years.
How did you develop an interest for sand art?
When I was a child, I used to play on the banks of river Jeera that is located near my house. Back then, as I was attracted to sand art, I used to make several figures and sculptures including that of gods and goddesses with sand on the river bed. Initially, my creations were not very sharp and mature, but gradually as time passed, I became more dedicated towards the art and ultimately mastered it. Now, it’s been more than 15 years I have been into sand art as my profession.
Any inspiration to move ahead in this field?
I don’t get inspired from any particular person; instead I have always admired great master pieces and sculptures like Konark and other ancient temples which are a beautiful outcome of lots of hard work and talent of master craftsmen. So, I get inspiration from the working style of workers rather than the workers themselves. Also, I believe nature to be my ‘guru’ and work accordingly.
Do you aspire to go for any sort of Guinness Book of World Record in sand art?
Actually I haven’t yet thought about going for any Guinness Record so far because I believe that the idea and subject of the world record should be quite unique and different. The moment I get such an idea, I will start preparing myself for the record.
What other hobbies do you practice other than sand art?
There are many. I do vegetable carving, sand animation, rangoli designs, stone painting and sand painting. I made rangoli design for the first time at the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra. This year too I completed the same task. I also do painting on the small round stones and pebbles that are found on the river bed of Mahanadi. I also find sand painting very interesting. It is all about painting with coloured sand.
Tell us about your institute, ‘Sudam Institute of International Sand Art’. How did you get the idea of starting it?
My institute at Puri has a training school and a gallery. I had set it up 14 years back. The thought of opening it came to me when I realised that many people who came to the city to see sand art went back disheartened without witnessing one! Just because I don’t make sand sculptures all the time, people shouldn’t go back without being able to see my creations. Therefore, I decided to capture all my creations and displayed them at one place. That is how the gallery was conceptualised. And, since many students are keen to learn sand art today, I also started the training school at my institute.
What is your favourite topic or theme that you portray through your sand art?
I have made a lot of sand sculptures on social and global issues including world peace, Swachha Bharat, Make in India, child labour, Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao, HIV/ AIDS, polio, road safety, save girl child, respect to freedom fighter, sovereignty, save fuel, save animal, global warming, climate change, save water, save culture, save Olive Ridley sea turtles, terrorism and many more.
Do you think ‘sand art’ can be taken up as a profession that could earn oneself a good living?
Well, as far as my case is concerned, I had no clue I would be making it my profession someday. I only followed my passion and the rest things just fell into place. In my opinion, if you come into such a profession solely with an intention to make money, you will never get successful. Instead, if you are dedicated, work hard and do your job properly, it will give you both financial as well as material success. But yes, sand art can be a brilliant profession and can give a standard livelihood to a person.
Tell us about some of your major achievements.
Although there are numerous achievements and accolades in my kitty today, some of them are a little more special to me. I worked as the art director for ‘Adim Vichar’, the sequel of ‘Sala Budha’ directed by renowned film maker Sabyasachi Mahapatra and the film, got several international, national and state awards. I was delighted to be a part of the movie. When I represented India and got first position in the 47th International Sand Art Contest at Shirahama Beach at Japan in 2015, it was a fantastic moment for me.
Also, I worked with ‘Smile India Foundation’ regarding Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2015 and got honoured on the occasion of the first international film festival at Shiri Port Auditorium, New Delhi. Recently, I also worked for the sand animation film , ‘The Lord of Universe’, which was awarded the Best Art and Culture Film in 64th National Film Awards for 2017.