International award-winning sculptor Harsha Vardhan Durugadda has created waves in the art fraternity by opting for sustainable living. Moving away from the city’s clutter, he has built himself a home using natural materials on an acre of land on the outskirts. The premises he has named Oorna includes an art studio and an organic farm.
“Nature is my muse,” Harsha says. “I prefer to walk the talk,” he stresses. “I wanted to create a lifestyle that inspires and motivates me constantly for better engaging with my art.”
Though he hails from Hyderabad, Harsha had been living in Delhi for several years. “Delhi’s air is completely polluted. When I came to Hyderabad, I realised the importance of a clean and serene environment, and how it reinvigorates the creative process. So, I decided to move to the outskirts and embark on a sustainable living journey” he shares.
Being part of The Learning Societies UnConference, a group that brings together like-minded people who are co-creating diverse learning communities and sustainable learning spaces for new models of happiness, has been instrumental in his decision, Harsha reveals.
Having done a course on Bioclimatic Earth in Auroville and at Thannal in Thiruvannamalai, the sculptor has built his new home with recycled shipping containers and earth walls. His studio was built with techniques using earth too. Every earthen structure engages the community and the process cannot be automated, Harsha explains.
“The beauty of this process is that it has to happen naturally, and at its own pace, just like nature, as against the current war-footing ways to build a house.”
The sculptor notes that having his own studio is a great advantage, especially during the current situation, which does not allow him to open his city studio.
"Here I can showcase my art for people anytime,” he says, adding, his financial liabilities have also been reduced, as he does not need to pay rent for the studio. Harsha, who has held several art shows in different countries, shares that life at Oorna over the last year has been very rejuvenating, and he has experienced a vast difference in his creative process.
Pointing out that artists normally travel to scenic places and explore nature for ideas, he says, “Now I am living in the lap of nature 24/7, so I am recharged every day.” “The synergy of living and working close to nature is powerful. It has improved my consciousness levels and I have ample mind space to generate ideas,” he reveals.
While his way of living complements his profession, Harsha feels that food is important too. He has started practicing the permaculture method of farming on his land, though he does not hail from a farming background.
“My parents are surprised at how I took to farming because I come from an art family, but they understand the value I am trying to create in building an ecosystem to curate better art,” says the 31-year-old, who has been growing his own produce.
“Everything reflects in my art. Most of my earlier works had a philosophical touch but now I am more practical. Being away from the chaotic city to a secluded place is reflecting in my art,” he says, signing off.