Ranjani Shettar

Ranjani Shettar, Aureole, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal 

Ranjani Shettar, Aureole, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal 

The relationship that humans have to particular spaces in the built environment is a consistent concern for Ranjani Shettar (b.1977, India). She is interested in the scrape or collision between the industrial and the organic, the mundane and the unusual, the traditional and the contemporary. She searches for possibilities of meaning in humble objects and usually works with everyday materials such as wax, ink, paper, cotton, plastic sheeting or mud.

For Touched, Shettar experimented with bronze and presents an elegant installation in the Vide at the Bluecoat that provoked a conversation about the touch between materials and architecture. Cast using the ancient lost wax process, Shettar’s work drew attention to the process of casting bronze. Traditionally, small ‘sprue’, or channels, are used to facilitate the flow of molten bronze and allow ventilation from the main form being cast. These channels typically appear as vein-like structures but are cut off the main form and discarded in the finishing process; their existence is purely functional.

Aureole embraced the idea of these ‘lost’ forms and recreated them as a large, closed organic form that sloped away from the viewer, circling, ascending and clinging to the walls and floor of the Vide. Made of several pieces varying in length from just a few inches to several feet, the bronze resembled the remnants of a collapsed spider web. A poetic tension and mystery permeated the installation; a sense that something cast had been removed, leaving only the trace of what it once was; a voluminous ghost that hovered unseen. Similarly, the vine-like natural growth of the roughened bronze with green patina sat in stark contrast to the grey-white, smooth, geometric minimalism of the surrounding architecture.

In creating  Aureole Shettar made the wax models for the work and then supervised the production of the bronze by a team of craftsmen at a foundry in south-eastern India, an area renowned since the ninth century for producing Chola bronzes1. She not only challenged her practice by deciding to work with bronze, but also questioned the role of the maker’s hand; although using a traditional craft method, she employed a different form not usually associated with the method or material. Significantly the young men helping her saw themselves as fabricators; they were not self-aware as artists or craftsmen.

In this respect, it’s clear that Shettar’s work continues to occupy a liminal creative space; a place where the thresholds between art and craft, tradition and modernity overlap and inform each other.

Ranjani Shettar at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Aureole, 2010
Cast bronze, dimensions variable
Exhibited at the Bluecoat