somerset house, v1

Day 7: and so it begins

I must admit to a slight fatigue at this point. But, along with that comes real and new enjoyment at the challenge of finding and illustrating a new story or thing each day.

Yesterday, as Harriet and I were chatting to a couple of visitors all the way from Suffolk, it dawned on me just how much our actual output has been governed by both the semi-random set of objects we selected to print, and the shape of the room and tables. The whole short practice has sprung from those two things. It’s interesting too, to note that the explorations themselves have gravitated towards the history of the British Museum’s collection itself, and not especially features of the objects. That’s a growing area of personal research interest on my part; how big museums have come to be, and the characters who formed them. Henry Salt, from Day 6, exemplifies the kinds of slightly shadow-y figures behind these incredible collections.

Bye bye, Henry Salt.

   

Hello, Colossal Foot.

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somersethouse, v1

Day 4: Nandi Bull

We started this morning with what has now become our cleansing ritual, where we remove the previous day’s display, stick that on the wall, and then prepare our new day’s actual tabula rasa.

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Our basic idea is to prepare a new display each day based on one or more of the objects. Today is our Nandi Bull.

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Here’s his label:

Figure of Nandi
India, Deccan, 1500s
Carved Granite

The humped bull Nandi (which means ‘rejoicing’) appears at the entrance of every temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, facing the god with a constant serene gaze. Symbolising strength, virility and fertility, as well as religious and moral duties, Nandi is widely recognised both as Shiva’s gatekeeper and as the animal on which he rides. Seated with his legs tucked underneath his body, this figure portrays a representation of Nandi from the southern Indian tradition.
Asia 1923.0306.1

And here’s what he looks like in the museum:

BM_nandi-bull

We were struck that the austere granite figure of the Nandi Bull in situ was so inert and static compared to the energy and colour and life that surrounds the bulls installed at shrines to Siva, in real life. They’re celebrated, covered in garlands, whispered to, and surrounded by people, fire and music. The museum experience shows us nothing of that. It didn’t take us long to pick an idea where the display transforms from something bland into something with energy, color and movement.

Here’s the work in progress. We’ll post the finished thing when it’s, well, finished.

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