My exhibition features artworks revolving around my overarching idea of traditions and customs from numerous cultures that have shaped my life, with a focus on the tradition called Sati. Sati is the now banned Hindu tradition of a widow sacrificing herself on her husband's funeral pyre in order to achieve immortality.
As an individual who has experience different cultures through living in countries including India, New Zealand and Australia, I have developed a keen interest in associating history and traditions and their relationships to the cultures in which they belong to. The artworks I have created for my exhibition are emotionally driven as it is associated with heavy themes such as death and oppression. However, I also wanted to highlight the concepts of enduring love, sacrifice and connection that are also present. Within my exhibited work, I aim to visually explore both the beauty and atrociousness of the act of Sati through both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works including clay sculptures, digital prints, photograms, relief printmaking.
A crucial sub-topic explored within my artworks is ‘identity’. Identity is a symbolic link throughout my exhibition as each artwork is associated with the destruction of a living person and the lasting memory, they leave which reinforces their identity. A ritual associated with Sati is the widow leaving an impression of her handprint on a wall prior to immolate herself. Within my work, i have used the symbol of the handprint to depict identity in relation to this Hindu tradition.
These hands then became symbolic of the story of these women, and the mark they leave on the world. Considering the symbolic association between the hand and memory, my pieces of The Prints of Life and Death, Dakshayani, Samsara Devotion, The Lost Women and Henna Handprints depicts the unity of individuals undertaking this practice. The symbolic nature of the hands links my artwork, instilling a common thread throughout my exhibition.
Furthermore, the element of colour has been utilised as a symbolic power to connect my art, and the common colours of red, brown and yellow are used as they are colours found in the traditional practices of Sati. These colours are present through different artforms to display the lives of the widows and their devotion to their marriages, as well as the flames that consumed them, and can be found in pieces like The Flames of Lohri, The Lost Woman and Sikhi. Additionally, contrast is used to emphasise the brutality and also beauty of this tradition, representing the death aspect of Sati as a sacrifice for better lives in the afterlife alongside their loves. Examples of this include The Lost Woman, Dakshayani, and Anvarohana.
The elements of line have also been used in many pieces as a physical representation of my connections to cultures. The piece of Caged Stories uses lines to symbolise the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the settlers, and also my connection to them and how I learnt their stories. In a similar way, Circles of Direction features lines to again symbolise my connection to my own country.
The artwork featured in my exhibition are oriented to provide a wide range of emotions and draw connections to the thematically similar pieces. Artworks with common traditions and ideas are positioned relatively closely allowing viewers to have a smooth transition between pieces and recognise the reoccurring elements of colour, contrast, and line.
The Prints of Life and Death and Samsara Devotion are situated separately on their own stands for viewers to recognise their value indivudually than other hanged artworks. Yet by positioning the stands in front of other artworks such as Dakshayani, viewers are still able to connect the works on plinths with the others behind them, again allowing for similar colours and patterns to be recognised.
Overall, this exhibition has enabled me to express the importance of identity in relation to cultural traditions and customs. Through the use of line, colour and contrast, my artworks portray my connection to both my own and other’s heritage in a multicultural environment. I wanted to take this as inspiration and incorporate it into my own creative work, bringing light to my own journey learning about the different cultures and their traditions.