Kinnari Saraiya – BA (Hons) Fine Art

Being an International student comes with the perks having a different cultural background that others may or may not be aware of. The most exciting aspect of it is to be able to use the cultural knowledge in artworks and stun the audience. 

I find it interesting using my origin and knowledge of the Indian colonial history, the British Raj, the piece of history that ties Britain and India together, in my work. Ironically bringing forward the cruel colonial doings of my place of residence in the moment to my place of origin. Focusing on the changes brought to India during the colonial time, I decided to enlighten the existence of architectural symbolism before and after the colonial rule. I made this piece taking inspiration from the Taj Mahal, built well before the colonial rule, keeping mughal architectural qualities in mind. Taking symbolism straight out of a masterpiece and using it to create something just as dynamic and powerful wasn’t easy and took 2 months of hard work and planning. The Taj Mahal has a square base that symbolises Earth, the mausoleum has an octagonal base representing Paradise and it is topped with a dome pointing to the sky, meaning ‘From Earth to Paradise’. It is said that it’s the palace where the Last Judgement is going to take place and it’s the gateway to heaven. 

Stepping into the Taj Mahal is like experiencing paradise, and I wanted to create such an aura around my piece. Taking inspiration from every intricate detail of the interior of the mausoleum I designed panels that would then be assembled into a cube. 

Every aspect of architectural symbolism used in the making of the monument is carefully considered in the making of the cube. After the last Mughal ruler was dethroned and the power of control was handed over to the British, the garden was chopped down to be perfectly squared to represent ‘French gardens.’ The shape of the sculpture was made keeping in mind the mughal symbolism of square to Earth and the change brought by the British of the perfectly squared gardens. I made a dark /black room with a tiny entrance and placed the cube along with the source of light in the centre of the room. The person who enters the room becomes a part of the work as they’ll have the projections of the designs on them. My piece was described as ‘a ritualistic shrine’ by my course leaders.

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