A Novel Solution – My First Sculpture/Archana Hebbar Colquhoun


Life to Art (and back to Life)

I saw the person walking backwards moving with a rhythm well practised as would be when facing forward and walking. Within a split second the image became clear. I was amazed at the sheer simplicity of the invention. The problem resolution was ingenious. Footwear was cleverly adapted to be worn back to front making the body of the man face the opposite direction to his feet.

A passing glance at this man walking on the street, comfortable in his skin, gave me little information as to whether his condition was congenital or was the result of an amputation (medically required or a deliberate act as in “Slumdog Millionaire”). Whatever the case may have been, it was certain that the pair of shoes he wore were of the same size.

When I made the sculpture and explained to friends and viewers that the concept of a man with his feet facing backwards was no allegory or a metaphor but something I had actually witnessed, few believed me – at least readily.

The Sculpture ” A Novel Solution”

The sculpture shown below is a faithful depiction of the person I passed by in the street in as far as the main feature of “a man walking backwards” (seen from the point of view of the feet) is concerned.  But there are other metaphorical features to the form of the body, all of which are hidden at the back, which are revealed when the viewer goes around the sculpture to inspect the feet.

Front view of sculpture titled "A Novel Solution" by Archana Hebbar Colquhoun.
Life size, Polystyrene block carving, Tokyo
A Novel Solution – Sculpture carved from a polystyrene block, Tokyo late 1980s

A recent reference in digital media to the same issue that relates to my sculpture ….. (and back to Life)

On one of my many subconsciously motivated searches on Google, I one day came across the following photo article about Howie Desjarlais. It was now my turn to be taken by surprise. I had witnessed a scene, I made a sculpture of the principal figure in the scene – the figure frozen in three dimensional form. And then, as if to reiterate the whole experience of me seeing and making of an image, I come across a document about Howie Desjarlias that indirectly pays homage to the life of the unnamed individual and to me an entirely anonymous person who I pass by on the street and who becomes the subject of my first life-size sculpture.

Provided below is the link to the article


” …he landscapes yards around Regina to earn money for his family, despite losing both of his legs from the knee down. (Cory Coleman/CBC)”

Archana Hebbar Colquhoun

Archana Hebbar Colquhoun

Archana Hebbar Colquhoun

I trained as an art historian at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda, worked as a researcher on contemporary art and published articles and essays on artists and art-related issues in New Delhi. Lived in Japan, where I used my bedroom as my studio and started making sculptures, while earning a living as a lecturer in ESL teaching at universities in Tokyo, developing methodologies for study of language and visual art. I am presently living in the U.K. working as an independent researcher, art writer, and a visual artist.

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