Image of Artwork
Wildlife conservation through installation art
Found objects and animal forms
Clay, plaster, wood and plants
Wildlife conservation through found objects and installation art
Found objects and animal forms
Clay,plaster, rope,leaves and stems
Environmental sustainability through proper material use
Nature inspired patterns
Socio-political issues on animal welfare
Wood, metal, fiberglass and light installation
Impact of Natural Disaster on Environment
Wood, rope, clay, plaster, branches, leaves
My inspiration for this artwork was first sparked by the book, ‘Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm’ authored by Isabella Tree. The whole book is a story of hope and conservation. This is a story of a farmland in Sussex, when left to its own devices, can heal itself from the destructive practices of human beings. Taking inspiration from this book, I decided to build an art piece centered around hope, one wherein you see different species, living together in harmony. In this installation I hope to convey the message of how the natural world can heal itself through the right conservation practices.
A visit to Mike Nelson's exhibition Ásset Stripper's', at the Tate Britain, inspired me to build commonly found and used objects and subtly link them together in producing a sculptural installation. His use of balance with various materials that have been stacked on top of each other, at the center of the Tate, forming a towering structure also inspired my use of balance in this Artwork. My use of ladders, a window and a rope, all known objects individually but when combined, they transform into an artwork which signifies progression, change, improvement and openness which together can give us hope of a better future in respect to the environment and wildlife preservation.
Phyllida Barlow’s Exhibition 'Cul-de-sac’ at the Royal Academy of Arts motivated me to construct an installation using cheap materials such as bamboo wood, plywood and clay. I decided to use my expertise as a Sculptor to build commonly used objects such as the ladder and the window in wood to denote progression and openness. The bamboo and plywood ladders up against the wall represents balance, strength, progression and growth until you reach the window, which in turn symbolizes our openness and the possibilities of a better future. The rope all around the installation is a symbol of the interconnectivity of all organisms to make up the ecosystems.The stems, leaves and cloth leaves tied into the rope moving upwards is the desire towards a greener future.The flora and fauna are picked locally to denote the progression and flourishing of our environment as we move towards better systems for environmental change.
The various species on the installation are endangered; this is done with the intention of portraying a need to have them abundantly around us in the future. The red squirrel made out of clay is mostly found in the northern forests of the United Kingdom. Its defining characteristics are a bushy tail and red fur. It is in endangered due to a disease carried by the grey squirrels, a Parapoxvirus, which often kills red squirrels. The yellow-breasted bunting perched upon the window is critically endangered due to hunting. I have made the aforesaid bunting sculpture out of wire and real bird feathers. There are many insects on the artwork which are all made of wire and clay. It is said that 40% of insect species are declining and a third of them, endangered. The many insects on the artwork are extremely important to many ecosystems as they aerate the soil and pollinate the flowers etc. For example, beetles feed on other dead animals and as decomposers help fertilize and churn the top layer of the soil which helps plants grow.
My art installation named Progress is one of hope and betterment. The ladder leading up to the window is a sign of progression towards a hopeful future of wildlife conservation and preservation. The ladder represents the steady climb towards the desperate need of knowledge and awareness for wildlife conservation, which leads to environmental change and ecological balance around the globe.
Wood, rope, clay, plaster, branches and leaves
Window and squirrel
Wood, rope, clay, plaster and leaves
Ladders with insects
Wood, rope, plaster, branches and leaves
Plaster, wood, coir, branches and leaves
The idea to incorporate objects into my Artworks first arose due to Jane Bennett's book on ‘vital materialism’. The notion that ‘things’ are active participants that affect our environment drew me to the concept of using objects for the first time in my art practice.
Mark Dion’s exhibition, 'Theatre of the Natural World' at the Whitechapel Gallery and his use of natural objects also inspired me to use actual leaves, twigs etc in my sculptures. His early works of the extinction series were of great interest to me and I found myself researching all endangered species world over. He felt it was his duty to draw attention to this pressing issue and as this topic directly overlaps with mine, I immediately thought of creating an installation with the same topic in mind. His use of objects as metaphors during his exhibition, ‘Theatre of the Natural World’ at Whitechapel Gallery inspired me to do the same. His strong emphasis on environmental issues is of great inspiration to me as well. His message for environmental change is one I had hoped to incorporate into this installation.
Having then later researched on the subject of deer’s, I found the Columbian white tailed deer to be endangered and read the book entitled, ‘Revised Columbian white-tailed deer recovery plan’ which as the book suggests looked at new means needed for saving this species of deer. It spoke extensively of new habitat requirements as their old habitat had flooded due to high tides. Lowering mortality rates through health treatments, necessary water supplies and forest structures etc. In 1978, the Columbian white-tailed deer was listed as endangered. The white-tailed deer became endangered primarily due to habitat modification. Development of commercial, residential and farm land areas as humans took over their natural forest, as well as flooding which destroyed a major part of their habitat. Poaching and overhunting further led to their decline. In 2003, after decades of trying to save the Columbian white tail deer, it was removed from the Endangered Species Act. The population had increased from just 2000 in the early 1980s to more than 6000 today. The protection under the Endangered Species Act has helped protect and improve the population of this deer.
The deer head is modelled after a picture of the Columbian white-tailed deer and ultimately cast in plaster. along with a layer of air dried clay on top for texture and finally painted. The bust of the Columbian white-tailed deer is placed on top to depict a healthy deer head. As you go from the bottom of the ladder upwards, the decaying matter is replaced by varying colorful leaves and branches, which depict the various stages of progress towards animal conservation. I used a ladder in my installation as a sign for the strong progress that human beings can make through wildlife awareness by taking inspiration from the works of Mark Dion. At the bottom of the ladder, I have made deer skulls from plaster and stuck them onto a wooden board. Some horns on the skulls are cut off as a metaphor to indicate poaching and its effects. The plain wooden board denotes a dead environment on which the dead deer skulls lie. The skulls on the wooden plank denote the extinction and lack of conservation towards the environment and wildlife on it.
This installation signifies my thoughts behind animal conservation. The skulls at the bottom of the ladder, then moving towards dead branches, then climbing upwards on the ladder towards colored leaves depicting a healthy environment with a healthy deer head on top of the ladder depicts the various stages of advancement that can be made towards successful animal conservation. Public awareness, legal protection and reducing our carbon imprints are a few steps that can lead to wildlife conservation.
Wood and plaster
Wood, coir, leaves and stems
My main topic being wildlife sustainability, I decided to find new mediums in my attempt to make environmentally friendly artworks. I wanted to learn a new form of art and for the above stated reasons, I started to read a book titled, ‘Sustainable Ceramics’ by Robert Harrison. In this book he speaks of going ‘green’ and using energy saving techniques and fuel alternatives among other environmentally friendly techniques.
The other books that sparked my interest in ceramic art were, ‘Ceramic Ecology’ by Charles C. Kolb and ‘Ceramics in the Environment’ by Janet Mansfield. Having read books on ceramics, I started to research on ceramic artists worldwide. I took inspiration from Patricia Griffin who crafts ceramics for beauty and daily use. She uses her natural surroundings to create her pieces. Maham Anjum is another potter whose works I found appealing. She uses a range of colours and all her works can be used for daily household processes including cooking, eating etc. Michelle Freemantle is another potter who likes to create objects that are user friendly. She hand-builds and presses mould’s into clay to create functional ware that double up as art pieces.
Over the summer, I interned with a potter and created artworks that could be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. My pottery works were sustainable and environmentally friendly. Taking inspiration from around my own environment, I decided to create works such as pencil stands, snack bowls, plates and mugs, which can be, used daily. I then took inspiration from all of the above and chose prints, colours and patterns that were found in nature. Whether it’s the shape of a leaf from my garden or press moulds from old dried tree barks, all of which helped me create my artworks. Glazing was another process I learnt and found fascinating. I used food grade colours without lead in them and shades of green and brown that I found in my own garden.
The idea of doing ceramic work took flight due to my desire to learn a new environmentally friendly craft and the book on sustainable ceramics was just the right starting point for me. I started off by learning simple coil techniques to make tiny bowls and leaf shaped containers.
Post this, I made a series of plates with embedded designs on them. At this point, having read about other potters and being inspired by their works, I decided to create daily use artworks which were inspired by my surrounding environment. I created a series of plates with embedded flower patterns on them and took inspiration from Michelle Freemantle’s works with press moulds.
Being more comfortable with the basic techniques of ceramics, I decided to make some cylinders with the potters wheel. Post the throw wheel technique, I then used a dried tree bark from my garden on the outside to give it a textural element which I also used for the leaf life structures that could be used as containers whether for stationary or food.
Initial stages of pottery were exciting as I learnt techniques of clearing air pockets with clay to prevent it from bursting in the kiln and different techniques of imbedding, coiling etc. I moved onto glazing which was a new exciting technique for me. I had to thoroughly mix the glazes I picked, then apply them very carefully onto my objects and wait for them to dry. I decided to try out a few glazes beforehand to see how the end product post firing would look and this helped me pick my colours. These glazes were led free and hence suitable for storing food as well. Post which I learnt how to stack works into a kiln for firing. I wanted environmental colours in my pottery works and therefore chose tones of green and brown. Robert Harrison taught me innumerable lessons on how to recycle the clay I used, save water etc, all of which I strived to do during the makings of my pottery works.
My idea behind these works were more material based. The fact is we can be environmentally responsible artists, not just with our subject matters but material use as well. Having used fiberglass without a second thought for my earlier sculptures, this is the right step in the right direction. Energy saving techniques, recycling waste products and saving water are some of the methods adopted for environmentally friendly artworks. ‘Going green’ as Robert Harrison states in his books has never seemed more relevant in today’s plastic planet.
A leaf shaped bowl
My allure towards animals continues in this piece. The main intent of this piece is to make the viewer understand the cruelty behind horse breeding specially in India. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals India (PETA), have revealed the widespread suffering and neglect of thousands of horses that are bred to extract antitoxins.
India's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, requires persons who are responsible for animals to take reasonable measures to ensure their well-being and to prevent suffering. Despite this, it has been found that a lot of facilities that aren’t officially registered as breeding facilities own pregnant mares and sickly horses. The horses were typically kept in crowded spaces and often tied with ropes that severely limited their movement and hurt their limbs. A number of animals in these facilities suffered from physical abuse and health problems and were full of fear and anxiousness. Commonly found physical problems included bleeding and infected wounds, diseased hooves, malnourishment, swollen limbs, lameness and eye abnormalities such as blindness. Improper tools were used for grooming and basic husbandry procedures such as dental care and hoof trimming were ignored. Many horses were also found with marks indicating they had endured painful branding and painfully large needles were used to extract blood faster.
Post my first unit, I shifted my research to animal welfare. Having visited a hill station in India, Panchgani and seen first-hand the plight of the horses, I decided to create an installation centered on them.
I used teak wood to carve out small wooden horses initially which I displayed at my college. I then later continued to cast them in resin, bronze, fiberglass and aluminium. I continued to make them for months, and ended up with a stable full of small horses which were purposely maimed, malnourished etc, to depict the sorry state of the horses I had seen at the horse breeding farm in Panchgani.
Wanting to experiment with new techniques, I clicked photographs of the horses with projections of their shadows to showcase an image of the cramped spaces in which they were confined.
My art practice at this stage has advanced from the impacts of environmental change to the care and welfare of animals which I had tried to depict through traditionally carving, and casting techniques and light installation work.
Bronze, iron, aluminium and fiberglass
Winds of change
Wires and terracota
Aftermath of storm
This piece is inspired by the recent events that had taken place in India. Cyclone Ockhi hit India in November 2017. A deep depression was found in the Bay of Bengal near Tamil Nadu, a state in the south of India which further intensified into cyclone Ockhi. The heavy showers and strong winds uprooted more than 500 trees, broke power lines and damaged innumerable settlements apart from the flooding areas in multiple localities. The southernmost tip of India, Kanyakumari, was particularly worrisome and over a thousand people were evacuated. A hundred odd fishermen went missing and a few people even died in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, two states in the country. The air force, navy, coast guard and National Disaster Management Authority apart from the army that was deployed for relief operations helped rescue, shelter and feed fishermen and locals from the two rain-battered states.
Cyclone Ockhi also exposed the lack of preparedness by the Disaster Management Authorities as more prompt action could have saved a number of lives. According to Kerry Emanuel of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in their Nature journal, there has been an increase in destruction caused by tropical cyclones in the past 30 years. In his research, it was suggested that there will be increased potential of cyclones as the future warming of oceans will take place, which has since been proven correct. There is an expected increase in hurricane related losses in the 21st century as coastal populations are rapidly increasing all over the world and specially in India. There is sufficient scientific evidence to prove that climate change will give rise to increased violent cyclones/hurricanes. Global warming has brought about melting glaciers which cause sea levels to rise which causes coastal flooding to be more severe when a storm comes ashore.
For my first showcase in college, I decided to make a tree made by wires inspired by this event. During my Christmas break back home, I decided to use that tree as a smaller model and slightly modify it around to make a larger tree with the same underlying message behind it. Since I was new to Art School I wanted to experiment with a new medium and therefore I decided to make a wood etching.
This print shows the state of nature post the cyclone which is bleak, dark and bent with no life left. The varying loops and colours on the tree represent the effect of the cyclone and the genuflection of the tree shows how the mere presence of a cyclone can bring something as strong, sturdy and heavy as a tree to its knees. The third sculpture shows the force by which the cyclone hit as it managed to disfigure and in fact uproot a lot of trees.
My research at the time was mostly influenced by natural disasters. I hoped to call attention through this piece for all the people living in Tamil Nadu and Kerala who had been badly affected by this cyclone. Global warming has never been so worrisome as it is now and therefore there is a direct need for environmental change without which more such natural disasters will take place, the world over.