On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art or design and study the language used to describe them. This week’s article is about sculptor Nek Chand and the amazing Rock Garden he created in secret.


Here are the first three paragraphs from Artsy, in italics.

For almost two decades, self-taught artist Nek Chand worked in secret. In the cover of night, he’d sneak away to a clearing deep in a forest owned by the government on the outskirts of the Indian city of Chandigarh. It was there that he built his very own shangri-la: a garden filled with glittering sculptures of gods, goddesses, and other mystical beings.

Today, Chand’s Rock Garden, as his oasis is known, is the second most popular tourist destination in India, after the Taj Mahal. But its road to completion was both long and hard-won.

Born Nek Chand Saini in 1924, he was the son of a farmer and grew up in a small village in the northern region of Punjab. His education ended after high school, at which point it was assumed he’d work on his family’s land. In his free time, Chand created little figures from clay, adorning them with broken bits of bangles. He had no idea that this childhood hobby would foreshadow his life’s work.

My comments:

In the first paragraph we learn that Nek Chand has been working on his secret garden for almost 20 years because a decade is 10 years. In secret is the same as secretly – something no one knows about. In the cover of night is an exciting way to say “at night” or “during the night.”  To sneak means to move quietly and secretly, and a clearing is a place where the land is open and there are no trees. The outskirts of a city means at the edge of a city. Shangri-la means a beautiful hidden place. It comes from a British story called Lost Horizon written in 1933, but now it means a place that is difficult to find where everyone is happy and everything is lovely.

In the second paragraph, we learn about how popular this garden is. The phrase road to completion means the process of creating the garden, and hard-won means he had to work hard to complete it.

In the third paragraph, we learn the full name of the artist. Beginning a sentence with Born means that the writer is telling us the name of a person when they were born. We can also say born in to talk about the place or time when someone was born. In the next sentence we see this phrase, at which point it was assumed. At which point is another way to say “at that time,” and to assume means to guess or think something is true without really knowing for sure. So in this sentence, everyone thought Chand would work on his family’s land, but that was not what happened. Free time means the time when you aren’t working, so the time when you are free to do what you want. Bangles are like bracelets, jewelry that you wear on your arm, wrist, or ankle, and bits are pieces. In the last sentence we see the word foreshadow, which means a suggestion of something that hasn’t happened yet.

This writer uses a lot of intriguing and mysterious language to describe the artist and artwork in this article. It’s exciting and makes me want to learn more. It’s a good idea to use words and phrases that pull your readers in and engage them. A good language coach can help you do just that!

At Artglish, we help artists and designers to describe their work with the best vocabulary and language possible. Every Thursday we study reviews and articles to share useful words and phrases to help you in this quest. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, click here to get exclusive content, or check out our Courses page.

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

To read the original article, written by Alexxa Gotthardt for Artsy on April 9, 2018, click the link below: