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Travelling Shrine – Home (Part 2)


Travelling Shrine – Home (Part 1)
Gulammohammed Sheikh Artist
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In fact, it is not that sort of much like a magic lantern as it is a combination of book and home... this one which I have done recently, which is also incidentally called Travelling Shrine – Home. It’s like opening your house every time. So there is a combination of shrine and home, opening and closing of doors, you know, entering into it, and in a way, discovering the world within. But at the same time, it is also, you know, in another way, a book, the book that you open and close, and with multiple combinations because the accordion format allows you that, you know. You can close page two and three and then connect it with page seven or page ten or... and you can keep on making it. So it’s like play. It’s a magic book, you know. It’s not book which is linear, you know, which you are reading, and it’s not texture. It’s pictures, and connected pictures would perhaps have a different import than pictures which have words in them, or with them. So the idea of the shrine is also like a play, in a way. You play with it because there are doors which you can fold in different ways, and it’s in four directions. So you can turn around or you can go from one side to, go from one side to the other. You can keep some doors closed and you can open others, and this is something which would allow you to, in a way, be physically handling images. I think this is the idea. This is what I was interested in. Often we are not sort of handling images by our hands. You know, we look at them. So in a way it is a kind of a journey through eyes, but here it is also through hands, the whole body. When I was making the small one, the idea was that it’s something, you know, each individual can handle, hence it is a personalised, you know, you would keep certain doors open, you know, to read those images in a particular way at a particular time, etc. This would allow you to do that. But when I thought of doing a room-sized shrine, it reverses the process, hence you are not, let us say you have an object which is in the span of your hands. Here is an object which is larger than you. It’s like a house. So you have your walls with images, you have your ceiling with images, and you have multiple doors to open and close, again in various combinations. So true, in essence it goes back to the magic box at one level, but at that level, you know, it is a box which is a kind of shrine. Shrine in the sense that you, at one level you respect the image, the very idea of the image, you know, the image is there. Now, in the traditional shrine is the image of a god or a goddess. So that is something which is given to you. Well, here it is the opposite, you know. It is not image of, sometimes there are images of demons here, because here you will discover demons, not only there, but within you. And also you even realise what humanity, or humankind has done to its own... others, you know, the terrible times that we are living in, the kind of wars that we are witnessing, the type of conflict that has become part of our life, almost day in and day out. There are these terrible stories that come to us right from Biafra to Palestine to, you know, just in Gujarat itself, you know. So in a way this is a shrine for in some way, atonement, or realising that there is a need to look at them again, to know in a way a history, to know your own history, but at the same time to encounter the terrible images, and you know, in a way own the kind of, you know, that you also, you know, in one sense are part of that terrible thing that has happened to humanity. So this is a kind of a reminder in the hope that, you know, that kind of an image, you know, would allow you to perhaps meditate upon the self, that would allow you to perhaps think about what else there is in the world, and I think these images I tried to focus on. One was journeys. So in the journeys, the first shrine I did, it was about not just plain journeys, but even forced journeys, like migration, forced migration, and it referred to images, you know, of the kind that I have just mentioned.

Gulammohammed Sheikh is an Indian painter, writer and art critic who has been a major figure in the Indian art world for half a century. His artistic career is closely associated with the renowned MS University of Baroda in Gujarat where after gaining his Master's degree, Sheikh went on to teach in the Faculty of Fine Arts, and where he was appointed Professor of Painting in 1982.

Listeners: Timothy Hyman

Timothy Hyman is a graduate of Slade School of Fine Art, London, in which he has also taught. In 1980 and 1982, he was Visiting Professor in Baroda, India. Timothy Hyman has curated many significant art exhibitions and has published articles and monographs on both European and Indian artists.

Duration: 7 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: December 2008

Date story went live: 18 November 2010