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Home » My Kolkata » News » KMRC starts repairs at 144-year-old Calcutta Art Studio heritage building in Bowbazar

Heritage Building

KMRC starts repairs at 144-year-old Calcutta Art Studio heritage building in Bowbazar

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London have lithographs made at the studio in their collections

Debraj Mitra | Published 26.11.22, 06:53 AM
Repair work in progress at Calcutta Art Studio in Bowbazar on Friday

Repair work in progress at Calcutta Art Studio in Bowbazar on Friday

Bishwarup Dutta

The cradle of rare lithographs in central Kolkata’s Bowbazar, damaged by an accident in the East-West Metro tunnel on October 14, saw the beginning of repair work on Friday.

A team of labourers and a supervisor from the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC),  the implementing agency of the East-West corridor, arrived at Calcutta Art Studio around 8am on Friday and started the repairs.

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On Thursday, The Telegraph had reported how the tunnelling accident led to dozens of cracks in the two-storeyed building housing the studio, a full-fledged printing press and a treasure trove of Kolkata’s glorious past.

The BB Ganguly Street studio, which began in 1878, has produced several lithographic illustrations — of deities and famous personalities — that have found their way to leading museums of the world.

Shubhojit Biswas, who runs the studio now, had received a call from KMRC officials on Thursday and was told that the repairs would start on Friday.

The repair started from a crack behind the staircase that stretches from the ground floor to the roof. Thermo Mechanically Treated (TMT) steel bars were inserted inside the damaged wall. After the initial reinforcement, a coat of plaster of Paris was given. 

“There are dozens of cracks and it is going to take several days to fix all of them. But I am happy that the work has finally begun,” Biswas told The Telegraph on Friday.

The cracks are visible on the floor, walls and ceilings. Some of them have grown wider since the accident.

After the accident, Biswas has had several visits from KMRC officials. But apart from fixing a damaged water reservoir, no repair was done.

Biswas added that he was relieved from the anxiety about the collection of the rare pictures at the studio.

Many lithographic illustrations are stocked in a room on the first floor. The room has multiple cracks, he said.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London have lithographs made at Calcutta Art Studio in their collections.

The Victoria Memorial and Indian Museum also have several lithographs of the studio. The lithographs were printed from paintings made by in-house artists, mostly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cracks appeared in around a dozen houses in the Bowbazar area following water seepage during the construction of a passage to connect the two tunnels of East-West Metro on October 14.

During the first few visits to the studio after the accident, KMRC officials had asked Biswas to evacuate the premises. They were worried about the impact on the machines on the already damaged structure.

A couple of adjacent houses, also damaged in the accident, had residents leaving for hotels.

But Biswas persuaded the officials to let him and his team of employees stay. “The engineers were worried about further damage because of the heavy machines that we use in the press. But I explained that the machines are kept on a base of sand bed which insulates the floor from the vibrations,” he said.

November is usually the busiest time for printers because of the New Year orders of diaries, calendars and other items.

A.K. Nandi, general manager (administration) of the KMRC, said he had asked engineers to prioritise the building’s repair.

“There is no need to worry. The repair will be done meticulously,” he said.

Last updated on 26.11.22, 10:01 AM
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