Design & Decoration S01 ep11: Ashika Granite, Granite Sculpture, [Melbourne]
Interview with Ashika Granite
I really liked working with a material that was really hard like granite, where after I hit the chisel and hammer into it, it just bounces back and there is a little dot, and you have put your whole energy into it.
Ashika is a name given to me by my teacher in India, it means "lover of the
divine" and I work with the most common of the elements, stone, and I find
divineness in it.
I was reading a lot of Jack London books about the North and the discovery of
gold and the animals, and I was dreaming as a boy about being there.
KM: Where in Poland are you from?
KM: Gdansk, OK, right
At some point my parents started to work on emigrating to Canada and I came
with them to Vancouver, to British Columbia and from there after a number of
years, graduating from High School, learning English and learning my way
around there I wanted to live my dream which was started years back, about
being up in the Yukon, in the north living with Indians, learning from them the
way of life.
I was kayaking for about a month on one of the river systems heading north,
the Autumn was coming and time was running out because at some point soon
the water would begin to freeze up..... still heading up there north. One
morning as I was going through the river, I heard the dogs – sounds of the
dogs - and I came to the bank of the river and saw a little camp where a man
that was living there, an Indian, who welcomed me to his place. It was an
extremely simple situation, I came and he welcomed me, he gave me some
tea and gave me some Banick. Banick is bread, and some dry meat - it was
very simple, we started talking, me with my broken English and he with his
broken English and he invited me to stay.
KM How long were you with him?
I was there for about five years.
KM You're kidding?
KM What were you looking for?
A way of growing up which would show me deeper layers of who I am.
KM What were the first things that struck you?
The line between life and death was so close.
In one of the Winters, where food supplies run so low that we had to start
killing our dogs, because we didn't have any meat for them. I suddenly realised
OK, if you pull the trigger you are going to be a different person.
The man I was living with, his way was a very simple different way but I knew
when I came across the pieces of innuete art walking on the tundra, so that
perhaps was my first experience of seeing art which I would say was
phenomenal for me.
I came back to Vancouver and decided to study art and went to Emily Carr
school of Art and Design.
KM Why Sculpture?
A lot of it was because I really liked working with material which is a hard
material and very fast I realised I liked to work with Granite, rather than soap
stone, limestone, even marble: something really hard where I hit the chisel and
hammer into it, it just comes back and there is a little dot, and you have put
your whole energy into it.
KM: Why do you torture yourself like that?
But it is not a torture. It is a, its a dance
So it is a love affair. My body, you look at me how I work and I physically so
hard I don't even know when the time goes
KM: So you’re lost in it?
When the sun comes down I almost ........a little bit more.
In art school I started creating work, which was a little bit strange for people to
understand how this Polish man is doing work which is very different work.
What was happening in my work, I had very and still have a very vivid dream
life, and the images that were coming in my dreams, I started carving. At one
point a friend of mine said to me why don't you go to the library and look at the
Indian Art - well I went and looked at the art. And the images from Kadurra and
images of stone carvings and suddenly started realising that what I was doing
were very much images from India, from Tantric images, Shivalingham and I
was so astounded to see that so I decided to pack up my bags and go and
check it out and see what was going on.
On a motorcycle I would go into places where, I would come into the jungles
and suddenly a Temple would appear in the jungle with images of
Perhaps as an artist I needed to go and experience more things in my life and
be able to express it with my body, myself.
Pamela was a painter in the Ashram, we both met and started to very much
appreciate each others journey as artists,
KM: Yeah but why Australia of all places?
Pamela: He was invited to come because his art was received by a place in
Melbourne; they had said we would be interested in showing your work.
KM How long have you been in Australia?
This is six years now, six years
KM You are almost ready to go now?
I wonder, what do you think?
KM I don't know, have you tried the Pigmy village in South Africa?
Have you been there?
KM Well actually I am a pigmy but I wasn't going to tell you.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Ashika Granite, Granite Sculpture, Melbourne