Indian sculptor's works plucked from scrap-heap: An office site is giving refuge to 120 statues. Patrick Matthews reports

THE INDIAN sculptor Nek Chand is feted across the world. An estimated 10 million people have visited his 25-acre (10 hectare) sculpture park in Punjab. His work is on permanent display in Washington and Berlin. But, in Britain, his gift to London of 120 works of sculpture have had to be rescued from the scrap-heap.

The sculptures - animals, soldiers, birds and labourers, which would fetch a five-figure sum at least if sold - were brought over to coincide with a recent visit to London by Chand, and are one legacy of what his British admirers have described as a fiasco. 'When he visited Germany there was a motorcade,' John Maizels, editor of Raw Vision magazine, said. 'On his trip to the USA he was given the freedom of the city of Baltimore and the Mayor of Washington declared an official Nek Chand day. In Britain he was put in a tenement flat off Brick Lane. I think he's frankly baffled by his treatment.'

The statues had been on display behind the City of London's Broadgate development as part of Edge 92, an Arts Council-funded project involving 23 artists in various public sites in London and Madrid.

There were no plans for them after June until Mr Maizels found space for them at the Alaska building in Southwark, south London, an office development currently being used for exhibitions. But his magazine can only fund viewing twice-weekly.

Chand's 25-acre Rock Garden, in the Punjabi city of Chandigarh, began in the late 1950s as the private hobby of an off-duty roads inspector. He defied planning regulations to create a world of kings and queens, villages and deities. His raw material, then as now, was rubbish - bike parts, clinker ash and broken pottery - which he fashioned in the jungle by the light of burning tyres. When an anti-malaria party stumbled on it by accident, it was recognised as a work of genius. The Rock Garden is the most visited site in India after the Taj Mahal. 'These statues are the gift to London of one of the world's greatest living artists,' Mr Maizels said. 'He will not allow them to be sold, other than the occasional piece to pay our expenses . . . It would be absurd for London to throw them away.'

Sarah Wason, the Arts Council's senior visual arts officer, said: 'I think the problem was that Edge 92 overstretched themselves both in terms of their staff and their financial resources, and as a result a number of artists have been unhappy about the way they were seemingly treated.'

She added: ' No slight was intended to Nek Chand.'

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam