Declare Jeanneret’s sculpture ‘art treasure’, Advocate Ajay Jagga writes to Chandigarh Administration

Declare Jeanneret’s sculpture ‘art treasure’, Advocate Ajay Jagga writes to Chandigarh Administration

The broken sculpture at Government Nursery School, Sector 16, Chandigarh. File

Amarjot Kaur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8

Reminiscent of City Beautiful's modernistic, Corbousieresque architectural identity, the broken sculpture at the Grade II heritage building Government Nursery School of Sector 16, which was designed by Swiss architect and Le Corbusier's cousin Pierre Jeanneret, doesn't even find a mention in city's catalogue on inventory of heritage articles.

In his letter to the UT Administration, e-mailed to UT Advisor Dharam Pal, Advocate Ajay Jagga, who is also the member of UT's Heritage Items Protection Cell, has called for including Jeanneret's sculpture in the list of UT's heritage assets along with notifying items designed by him as 'art treasures'.

On July 10, a report published in the Chandigarh Tribune had put the spotlight on the neglect of a priceless sculpture designed by Pierre Jeanneret. The artwork had been found broken in three pieces by local guide Sanjeev Sharma.

Jagga wrote: "In order to protect and conserve city's heritage, a detailed compilation was prepared of inventoried items, which mainly includes furniture apart from wooden models, other models and even electrical lamps etc. However, the sculpture designed by Pierre Jeanneret, which was existing at Government Nursery School, Sector 16, is not part of the inventory. Since this sculpture was designed by Pierre Jeanneret, this too should be considered and added to the inventory of heritage articles."

Jagga stated that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had clearly conveyed that the way forward is to get these items notified as art treasure, as defined under section 2(b) of the The Antiquities And Art Treasures Act, 1972. "Since all these articles are human work of art and less than 75 years old and the author of the art is not alive so these are covered under the definition of Art Treasure. Once these articles are notified as art treasure, it shall not be lawful for any person, other than the Central Government or any authority or agency authorized by the Central Government in this behalf, to export these articles. This step will prevent the smuggling of these items," he wrote in his letter.

Apart from mentioning ways in which city folk can be sensitised about their heritage, Jagga states: “A regular Heritage Audit team can be constituted by the Administration, which will conduct annual audit of the heritage articles. Each audit is likely to provide a huge amount of information about the state of heritage in various departments, alongside an overview of the heritage assets."

When contacted, UT Advisor Dharam Pal said, "This should be discussed in the committee to device the way forward also. We will look into what can be done and take a decision on this soon."

Sorabh Arora, director, Cultural Affairs, UT, informed, "We are in talks with the French Government, through the French Embassy, regarding identification of original works of Jeanneret and Corbusier, restoration and legal framework on how to protect and preserve them. They had to come and discuss these issues on heritage in March this year, but the visit was postponed due to Covid's second wave. We are hoping to meet this year."

Jagga on the other hand leaves us pondering over a thought: "As a nationalist, I don't want to give this idea to the any country that we are not owning our heritage. I say, UT is the owner of these items and it must make a proper claim of exclusive rights on these items so that no one else can," he said, when contacted about the letter.

Tribune Shorts


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