Minefield of emotion

Aug 10, 2012, 12:03 IST | Ruchika Kher

Artist Prabhakar Pachpute's exhibition, Canary In A Coalmine that opens today, highlights the mindset and emotions that surfaced from his visits to one of India's oldest coalmines in Maharashtra's Chandrapur district, where his family has worked for three generations

Prabhakar Pachpute has witnessed strife and turmoil of Chandrapur’s coal miners from close range, day in and day out. He understands their suffering and realises the health hazards that all of them face since he was born and raised in an environment where most people lived their lives in coalmines. To bring to the fore, the anguish and adverse living conditions of these miners, the young artist decided to present an exhibition of charcoal drawings.

Drawings from artist Prabhakar Pachpute’s exhibition, Canary In A Coalmine

“I am from Chandrapuri, where coal mining is common. My family members still work in the mines. It started since my grandfather was a miner. I have witnessed their problems. I wanted to explore my thought process with this work,” says Pachpute. The artist’s previous exhibition, Shunya, was also inspired by coal miners and involved a mix of drawings, light and shadow. This time he has made four main drawings on the four ply-walls and the false ceiling of the gallery. He completed it in 10 days. “There are various issues that coal miners face including insufficient remuneration and health hazards; people should sit up and take notice of this,” he stresses.

Revealing the logic behind the title, Pachpute informs us that miners who went deep into coal shaft chambers would carry a golden canary with them. The miners, were unable to sense when toxic gasses would escape these walls. The canary, who is sensitive to carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, would die if these gases were being emitted in the mines, thereby alerting the coal miners to evacuate
the place.

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