Restoration of Kala Ghoda Marks a Landmark in Outdoor Sculpture Conservation
The vibrant city of Vadodara, Gujarat, marked an extraordinary milestone as it celebrated the unveiling of the iconic restored and conserved ‘Kala Ghoda’ sculpture. This momentous occasion, graced by the esteemed presence of the Honourable Mayor and the Commissioner, served as a commemoration of the anniversary of Saya Ji Baug. The unveiling stands as a reflection of months of dedicated labour by the remarkable team from the IGNCA Conservation Division and Regional Centre Vadodara. This symbolic event embodies the city’s rich heritage and artistic spirit, encapsulating the essence of Vadodara’s cultural legacy. This information was provided by Shri. Anurag Punetha, Controller, Media Centre, IGNCA.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, has been instrumental in shaping India’s rich cultural landscape. Its illustrious legacy spans significant milestones, from crafting exquisite artworks for the new Parliament building to the installation of the revered sculpture of Lord Nataraja at Bharat Mandapam. At the helm of this distinguished organisation is Dr. Sachchidanand Joshi, Member Secretary, IGNCA, an eminent author, journalist, and cultural luminary. Dr. Joshi’s multifaceted expertise continues to drive IGNCA’s endeavours, fostering a profound appreciation for art, history, and culture among communities nationwide. His vision and support were instrumental in achieving the successful conservation of ‘Kala Ghoda’, setting a benchmark for future preservation endeavours.
Within the expansive network of nine regional centres, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) proudly houses a vibrant regional centre in Vadodara. Although newly established, this centre is actively engaged in numerous significant projects within its scope. The collaborative endeavour between the Vadodara Municipal Corporation and Regional Centre Vadodara stands as a reflection of this commitment to meaningful engagement.
This pioneering project represents a monumental milestone, setting a precedent as the inaugural endeavour of its kind in India’s outdoor sculpture conservation landscape. This project’s innovative approach and comprehensive conservation techniques herald a new era in the protection and celebration of the nation’s invaluable artistic heritage.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Sachchidanand Joshi for his invaluable contribution to making ‘Kala Ghoda’ a reality. His leadership and commitment to culture have paved the way for this monumental achievement by our team,” expressed Dr. Achal Pandya, HoD, Conservation Division at IGNCA. The entire project was overseen by Prof. Pandya and Dr. Sanjay Dhar, a renowned conservator in India.
Ms. Arupa Lahiry, Regional Director of IGNCA Vadodara, and her dedicated team, alongside the Conservation Division of IGNCA, played a pivotal role in identifying this sculpture, afflicted by what could be termed ‘metal cancer’. Timely action by the Vadodara Municipality Corporation, led by its current Commissioner, Shri Dilip Rana (IAS), prevented further damage. Commissioned by the people of Vadodara in 1907 to mark the silver jubilee celebration of Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekewad’s reign, this sculpture, created by Francis Derwent Wood, cost Rs. 60,000 at that time, honouring a beloved ruler known as ‘people’s king’.
Extensive research spanning months aimed to identify the corrosion’s cause and the revival of the original patina. The findings from this study hold promise for multiple outdoor conservation endeavours, addressing a pressing need in contemporary India.
The conservation efforts surrounding ‘Kala Ghoda’ were not just a tribute to Vadodara’s storied past; they represented a watershed moment in India’s commitment to a scientific approach to safeguarding its cultural legacy. Amidst the celebration of Saya Ji Baug’s anniversary, the revelation of ‘Kala Ghoda’ signifies an unwavering commitment to collaboration and asserts the paramount significance of preserving our collective heritage. This historic event encapsulates not only Vadodara’s cherished history but also highlights the nation’s strides towards a more systematic and vigilant cultural preservation ethos.