18 December 2020


Summit’s sculpture park: A dialogue between the life and lifeless

A full-metal sculpture of a dilapidated rickshaw with corpses lying unattended on it. Photo: Mumit M/TBS

The Business Standard, December 18, 2020

Built on a two-acre land inside the Summit Gazipur 450MW Power Plant, the sculpture park pays tribute to the connection between industry and art, and the history of Bangladesh

Every afternoon, sunlight lights up a white wall at the Summit Gazipur 450MW Power Plant building. The shadow of a lone bird perched on a fence falls on that bright wall. As the sun sets, the size of the shadow grows.

The bird is not a real bird, but a 244×143cm stainless steel sculpture attached to a nearby 28-metre transmission tower. The Peace Bird sculpture sitting on a tower also made of steel is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. But its distinctive shadow on the wall can leave one captivated.

Shadow of a lone bird perched on a fence; Photo: Mumit M/TBS

In modern art, the meaning of a sculpture can be mysterious. Its three-dimensional shape with curves that create different shades with changes of light can be – separately or holistically – a representation of reality. The onlooker has the freedom to interpret the meaning of the structure.

When it comes to an open-air sculpture, interlinking the space with the mass or solid form becomes a necessity. Such an arrangement is visible at Summit's Gazipur-based power plant where 19 sculptures by eminent sculptor Hamiduzzaman Khan have been placed on a two-acre land.

Nineteen sculptures by eminent sculptor Hamiduzzaman Khan have been placed on a two-acre land of Summit’s Gazipur-based power plant. Photo: Mumit M/TBS

According to Hamiduzzaman, this park, inaugurated in February last year, is the country's first sculpture park. 

The sculptor used metal, stone, granite, steel wire and cement in his work. The selection and use of the material was designed to complement the mechanical sound created by the power generating turbines. 

Hamiduzzaman, honorary professor at the department of sculpture at the University of Dhaka said, "We have placed the sculptures in a natural setting in such a way that they can engage in a dialogue with nature. As the day and night rolls on, the appearance of the sculptures change, interacting with the changing light and shade. This is the beauty of an open-air setting."

The unique part of the park is the longest mural in Bangladesh. The mural, titled Shrom O Srishti, (Labour and Creation) is 103.63 metres long, and shows different forms of turbines, cogs, wheels and other industrial equipment in motion. 

Photo: Mumit M/TBS

This artwork symbolises the interrelation between labour and creation, while upholding the necessity of electricity in development. 

The cylinder-shaped, 205cm tall sculpture titled 7th March, 1971, pays tribute to the historic speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The sculpture made of bronze and MS steel is wrapped in mystery as its upper portion contains an engraving with the Bangla letters written upside down. If we look through the engravings, light passing through from the other side hints at a message containing the spirit of the Liberation War.

Beside it, a full-metal sculpture of a dilapidated rickshaw with corpses lying unattended on it, leads visitors down the memory lane. This artwork is a sort of a memorabilia to Muhammed Aziz Khan, chairman of Summit Group, who witnessed the indescribable suffering of the Bangladeshi people caused by Pakistani military on the horrific night of March 25, 1971. 

Waiting Mother, a MS steel-made sculpture, is another memorabilia of the Liberation War, upholding the greatness of motherhood. The 365cm tall sculpture on green grass depicts the bold emergence of our motherland amid huge sacrifices. 

Photo: Mumit M/TBS

Development in industrial sector - through the coexistence of the life and lifeless - is the prerequisite for the development of an independent nation. Sculptures titled Motion, Kingfisher, Sound of Nature, Pond, The Seed, Inspiration, Life and Lifeless and Image of Universe convey that message.

Hamiduzzaman believes that blanket mechanisation cannot help achieve prosperity. Rather, we need leisure to enjoy liveliness. We need to attain spirituality. 

His philosophy is clear– true growth can only be achieved when there is a balance between work and art. He successfully replicated this in sculptures titled Relax, Form of Beauty, Guest of Night, Watcher, Nirvana and Spirituality.

History plays a crucial role in the development of a nation. He also thinks language is the foundation of civilization. Hence, he picked primitive letters of Bangla language and made a metal installation titled Signage that beautifies the façade of the power plant's administrative building. In daylight, the reflection of sunlight falls on the wall with a golden texture, while a shadow falls on the other side, creating an illusion. 

Hamiduzzaman said more sculptures will be placed in the park and the adjacent waterbody. "For the waterbody, the sculptures will be coloured in bright red. Their reflections will then play on the waves of blue water." 

Photo: Mumit M/TBS

For the whole arrangement that offers enough space for the sculptures to exist, the sculptor thanked his friend Muhammed Aziz Khan. "Summit has helped me realise my long desire to build a sculpture park. This facility gives me a wider canvas for my art." 

The open-air park with the natural setting symbolises Summit's unique love for art. This is also a testament to the symbolic relationship between industrialisation and works of art. 

Aziz believes that a combination of imagination and science is an art, which has been reflected in the establishment of the park. He cited world-famous painter Leonardo da Vinci who pioneered many ideas of modern science and technology through art.

"It [the park] enhances creativity through bringing human beings' imagination to reality," Aziz said. 

The industrialist is hopeful the park and the adjacent locality will become a tourism spot after a port by the River Turag and the connecting road are developed there. 

Those interested can visit the park with the authority's approval. However, the 1km muddy roadway to the plant from Gazipur Kodda Bazar is a sharp contrast to the well-designed facility. Despite several requests, the Gazipur City Corporation has paid no heed to repairing the road.