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Nek Chand: The Rock Garden Sculptures

[ Exhibition )

Photograph of Nek Chands sculptures of 5 people made of concrete and ceramic, displayed in the Pallant Gallery Courtyard

Nek Chand, The Rock Garden Sculptures, 2015, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, Photograph Jason Hedges

This hugely popular installation was a collection of over 40 sculptures from the internationally renowned Outsider artist Nek Chand (1924-2015). A self-taught artist and creator of the Rock Garden of Chandigrah – India’s most popular attraction after the Taj Mahal.

These mosaic and concrete figures came to us from the Nek Chand Foundation in London, a rare opportunity to experience these pieces outside of their home in India. They were displayed outside in keeping with their origins, adorning the Garden Gallery and Courtyard.

Made from found materials and recycled everyday items, these sculptures reflect Chand’s intuitive approach to creating and spoke directly to the ethos of Outside In: the Gallery’s flagship project in 2015, providing a platform for artists who define themselves as facing barriers to the art world.

Chand initially worked for the government as a public roads inspector and began building the Rock Garden illegally using the materials he came across in an abandoned area of forest. When the authorities discovered his creation however, they did not charge him with trespass or unlawful construction. Instead, they began funding the project and provided him with a body of staff to aid his task. He went on to receive the Padma Shri award in 1984 for contribution to the arts of India.

Chand viewed his creations as spiritual figures, representing gods and goddesses. Their organic and unique variety is testament to his natural creative eye. The awe-inspiring Rock Garden in Chandigarh now spans over 25-acres and contains several thousand pieces. His work shows that creativity and ingenuity are not always things to be taught. They can speak across cultures and obstacles, and appear in all kinds of unexpected settings.

What the press said

…their collective power is remarkable…the mind struggles to find things with which to compare it

John Walsh, The Independent

This exhibition was made possible by a number of generous organisations and individuals

Want to know more?

If you’re conducting research into this artist or another aspect of Modern British art and would like to use our library and archive, please contact Sarah Norris, Collections Manager on s.norris@pallant.org.uk.

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