Mandala - London, 2011.
Installed in my solo show in London - December 2011
Photo etching and aquatint on steel plate on steel plate.
Size: Print: 40cm x 54cm Paper: 57cm x 74cm
Print on Fabriano Printmaking Paper
First edition print at London Print Studio, London, UK 2011
Thrid edition print at Graphic Studio Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, 2014
‘Mandala’ shape collage of the old street utility covers photographs from streets of London. Mandala is concentric diagrams, have spiritual and cultural significance in various civilizations. It is a symbol of cosmic truths and as instructional charts of the spiritual aspect of human experience. During the study of old street utility objects designs in London I collected more than 2000 photographs of beautiful manhole and coal hole covers.
So far I’ve collected over 4500 photographs of unique and beautifully designed covers from London, Glasgow, Manchester, Dublin, Galway, Prague, Maspalomas, Mumbai, Goa and many other places! Many of these utility covers have been on the streets for more than 120 years, but mostly people don’t notice them. As our streets are upgraded, often Victorian and Georgian era manhole covers are being replaced by simple grates or cheap plastic covers, and there is no archive or record of these artifacts of our society.
Our designers and engineers have developed a mechanism to deal with such ‘used’ and ‘unwanted’ ‘dirty’ materials. These thoughts led me to examine sewage covers, which were made to keep people from falling into the holes below, which covered the movement of sewerage and waste from the city into surrounding rivers. The manhole covers can tell us a story of modern civilization and prosperous industrialization in London, one of the first industrial cities of the modern world. Some of these utility covers- such as coalhole covers, pavements covers and sewage covers- have been on the streets of London for more than 120 years. The history of making manhole covers can be used to demonstrate the England’s industrial culture from the nineteenth century to date. The design patterns on the covers act as witnesses to the design movement from the 18th century to the 21st century in England.
The influence of John Ruskin’s philosophy of design and The Art and Crafts Movement, founded by William Morris is clearly visible on the coal-hole covers designs made in late nineteenth century, which look handmade and custom designed. The idea was that art, which is to be made by the people and for the people, brings happiness to the maker and the user.
These covers seem like a thin, blurred line between the fast pace of human life and the continuously working world beneath our feet. I see them as a window to the world beneath us and to the era in which they were created. They also reveal the civic and political awareness, and ambitions, of the people who ruled this country at the time. This has been an opportunity for me to examine how the anonymous designers who created these covers thought about the size of the object, the material, the construction and the developing demands of the most successful industrial state of the 19th century. The history of typefaces has also been smoothly merged into the design process of these covers, and the lasting impression of the art and craft movement is clearly visible on some covers.
For me, the manhole covers and other utility covers on the streets of London are a symbol of ‘Mandala’. In Sanskrit language the meaning of ‘Mandala’ stands for control, understanding and formation of universal powers. ‘‘Mandala’ is ambivalently resonant in inner-outer synthesis, and is associated with the subtle body and aspects of human consciousness.
The river and fish (20cm x 39cm), Etching on paper with water color
The sewage and me (29cm x 44cm) Etching on paper with water color
Utopia (30cm x 40cm), Etching on paper
Linking lines (20cm x 31cm), Etching on paper
Wallpaper (20cm x 31cm), Etching on paper
The Message (20cm x 31cm), Etching on paper
Seven (Stratum) (60cm x 60cm), Silkscreen on paper with dust
Wallpaper (20cm x 31cm), Silkscreen on pape