Timed to coincide with the festival of Diwali, this year’s Tate Britain Outdoor Installation provides a timely reminder of the cultural and artistic richness of multicultural Britain.
Drawing inspiration from mythology, radical feminism, Bollywood and personal memory, Chila Kumari’s Remembering A Brave New World is both visually dazzling and artistically challenging.
The installation is the fourth in a series of outdoor commissions by the gallery marking the coming of winter, with Kumari’s work follows on from pieces by Alan Kane, Monster Chetwynd, and Anne Hardy.
Formed of several of light sculptures, the work currently adorns the front of Tate Britain’s Millbank gallery.
The installation pays homage to Kumari’s parents’ homeland of the Punjab, with several references to the families life in Britain thrown in for good measure. The result is a dazzling fusion of symbols and motifs rendered impossibly striking by the use of illuminating lights.
Hindu deities such as Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and purity, and Ganesh, the god of prosperity, are here rendered as neon sculptures, alongside Hanuman the monkey god and several symbolic animals.
These figures are mixed with more familiar images, such as a pair of lips eating an ice cream cornet, or the unmistakeable figure of Britannia.
“Even when its doors are closed, Tate Britain is able to make a powerful cultural impact on our capital with this bold new work. Chila’s colourful tribute to her Punjabi and English heritage is a great way to mark Diwali’s celebration of light over darkness and will be a symbol of hope during these difficult times.” said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
“Although our museums and galleries remain closed, I’m delighted that we are still able to unveil Chila Kumari Singh Burman’s new commission. I hope this spectacular transformation of Tate Britain’s façade can act as a beacon of light and hope during dark lockdown days and bring joy to all those who live or work nearby” added The Director of Tate Britain, Alex Farquharson.
Chila Kumari Singh Burman is a multimedia artist who is primarily concerned with investigating and challenging perceptions of south Asian women in British Society. Born in Liverpool to Punjabi parents, Burman is regularly inspired by her thoughts and feelings about the Punjab along with her memories of growing up in Liverpool.
One of the artist’s best-known pieces pays homage to her father’s work as an ice cream. The piece, entitled Eat Me Now, consists of a giant ice cream cone with a chocolate flake on top.
Burman has said of the work: ‘My father was a tailor and magician but when the family arrived from India to Merseyside in the 1950s, he couldn’t find work so he ended up buying an ice cream van and became an ice-cream man. His van was called Burman’s and it had a big tiger on top.’
More information about this year’s Tate Britain Outdoor Installation can be found here.
For information on other great outdoor art in London, please click here.