Nek Chand: Artist who built the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, one of the most popular tourist attractions in India

The sprawling display of sculptures attracts up to 5,000 visitors every day

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The Independent Online

The Indian artist Nek Chand created the Rock Garden, a sprawling display of sculptures crafted out of discarded household items and waste in the northern city of Chandigarh. He began working on his craft in the 1960s, when he cleared a small patch in the forest behind Chandigarh's Sukhna Lake and started creating statues and figurines using everything from discarded rubber tyres to colourful glass bangles.

For several years it remained a personal project until he was discovered by city officials, who threatened to dismantle his work. But he found many local supporters and in 1976 the Rock Garden was formally inaugurated and began to welcome thousands of visitors.

Chand was given a salary and the title of Sub-Divisional Engineer, Rock Garden, as well as a workforce of 50 labourers. He continued to create new work until the very end, adding new displays. Soothing waterfalls washed over charming statues made of broken ceramic tiles. Colourful rows of glass bangle figurines contrast with mud and cement animals.

He continued to experiment with new materials and styles as the garden grew and evolved. The more recent additions included sculptures made of cement, metal wires and mud. As his acclaim grew he was able to hire workers and also drew hundreds of volunteers from across the world.

The 25-acre garden attracts up to 5,000 visitors every day, making it one of India's most popular tourist attractions. Paying tribute, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said Chand would always be remembered for his "artistic genius and fabulous creation".

EVE THOMAS

Nek Chand Saini, artist: born 15 December 1924; died 12 June 2015.