Kohima: During the recently concluded National Youth Festival, 26-year-old Vikuolelie Keditsu, a self-taught sculptor from Chiechama village in Nagaland’s Kohima district, bagged the third position in the national-level sculpting competition for his wood-carving piece that took him three days to complete.
During a telephonic conversation with EastMojo, Keditsu said that although it has been 14 years since he has been into wood carving, it was the first time he participated at a sculpting competition. “I never thought that I will win. I feel very fortunate. This is my first achievement in sculpting,” said the excited sculptor, who is currently on his way back home from Lucknow.
This year’s National Youth Festival (NYF) was held in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and was inaugurated by the Union minister for youth affairs and sports, Kiren Rijiju. Keditsu, along with eight other Naga artists had gone to the annual festival to participate in different competitions ranging from photography to sculpting. He explained that sculpting competition was under two mediums: wood and clay sculpting, where 15-20 participants from across the country took part under this category.
An alumnus of Alder College Kohima, Keditsu is now a freelance sculptor based in Kohima. Recounting how it all began, he said that he was inspired by renowned sculptor Lanu Pongen, who lives in his neighbourhood.
“As a little boy, each time I cross his home after school hours, I would watch him sculpt, and that how I found my interest in sculpting,” he said.
While he has won accolades in painting at various state, college and school-level competitions, this was his first participation at a sculpting competition. However, he has been exhibiting his crafts at local art galleries. Keditsu is also the chief sculptor of Supermodel Ketholeno Kense’s brand “Cache”, a home-grown souvenir workshop, and his works are mostly based on Naga culture.
Talking about the work that won him the competition, Keditsu said “Based on the theme ‘Youth Vision for New India’, I thought of creating something based on the unity and diversity of the religious groups prevailing in India. India is a developing country and it is a must that peace, harmony and unity prevail among the people despite the diversity that exists. If this is done, India will become a beautiful home for all”.
Without formal training, Keditsu, who has refined his wood carving skills through practice, said that although he has no immediate plans, he wishes to pursue a professional course in sculpting.
“I want to concentrate on pursuing wood carving as a full time profession. It is a difficult profession, but I want to follow my heart and it is so satisfying to see my imagination come to life through my creations. It is gratifying and very satisfactory,” he said.