Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Badami Caves, Karnataka: Stopped citing ASI ‘rule’, artists sketch in protest

Artist in India face tough rules and stubborn bureaucratic hurdles before they are allowed to sketch beautiful monuments in India, contradictory to international practices.

 Raju Sutar, Badami Caves in Badami, law for artist to follow in India, rcheological Survey of India (ASI), Ganapathy Subramaniam, Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, Julie Wayne, India news, India artist news, India artists barred by law, laws for Indian Artist, latest news, India news An RTI reply had said that no permission was required if artists were not using a camera stand, stool, chair, table, large drawing board, easel or any such appliances. Express

Here is proof that art and artists indeed know no boundaries.  On February 7, a group of 12 artists from Pune, led by renowned painter Raju Sutar, had gathered at Badami Caves in Badami, Karnataka, to sketch the monument.

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As they sat down, a security guard ran up to them and asked them to stop it, claiming that it was “against the rules of Archeological Survey of India (ASI).” The members tried to reason with him and even showed him a copy of the RTI reply, received by Tamil Nadu-based Ganapathy Subramaniam in April 2016, where he had sought details about the said ‘rule’.

“As per Chapter-VIII of AMASR Act, 1959, copying and filming of protected monument permission of the Competent Authority is required for using camera stand, stool, chair, table, large drawing board, easel or any such appliances. However, no permission is required if any person is not using these appliances within the precincts of a monument,” stated the RTI reply.

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Despite seeing the RTI copy, the security guard refused to entertain them and, instead, called a senior officer, who was also shown RTI copy. However, he too, asked the artists to stop sketching, citing the ‘rule’.

The artists refused to allow the official and the staff ‘curb their medium of expression’ and continued sketching.

“All of us decided to continue sketching within the premises of the monument. We told the officials that they were free to take any action against us and can even call the police, but we will not stop sketching. Despite repeated attempts by the security guard to stop us, we walked out of the monument only after three hours, when all of us were done with our respective sketches,” said Sutar.


According to Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959, “The Director-General may, by order, direct that no person other than an archaeological officer or an officer authorised by an archaeological officer in this behalf shall ‘copy’ any specified monument or part thereof except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a permission in writing by an archaeological officer.”

For French artist Julie Wayne, who was also part of Sutar’s group, the ‘rule’ came as a shock. “Across the world, museums and other structure authorities invite artists to draw, sketch and paint. So, I was quite surprised when I came to know about such a ruling,” said Wayne, who has been visiting India for the last 20 years.

AM Salim, multi-task officer at Badami Caves, said, “We do not stop people from sketching. However, if anyone wants to sketch at an ASI site, they need prior permission from the department.” “This group of artists not only broke the rule, but also talked disrespectfully to our staff and Junior Conservation Assistant. We have taken down their names, contact details, and have informed our head of the department,” he added.


Salim further said that, in the last one month, three different groups have visited the site after taking prior permission for sketching.

Pointing out that another group recently procured a similar permission from the authorities, he said, “People have to just mail us in advance for permission and the process hardly takes 15 days.”

In February 2016, Subramaniam, a member of Chennai Weekend Artists, had launched a petition on http://www.change.org. He had urged the ASI authorities to drop the rule that prohibits sketching at monuments or historic sites that come under ASI.

“We find this rule ridiculous and illogical. They are ready to allow photography and videography but not sketching. So now in protest of this ruling, we will visit ASI sites across the country and sketch,” says Sutar.

First published on: 09-02-2017 at 01:07:24 am
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