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Throughout the Indian subcontinent, thresholds are invested with special meaning. They are spaces of transition between the public and the private, the sacred and the secular, connecting   the external world with the realm within. 

‘Silent Sentinels’ is composed of various architectural and sculptural elements traditionally featured in thresholds of homes, step wells and religious architecture. Toranas, arches, pillars mark the entrance, marking  a space of transition, defining the line between entrance and exit. Totems, brackets, deities, guardian figures and angels carved on the façade or placed near the doorway serve as declarations of identity and belonging, as well as symbolically guard the entrance. 

Silent Sentinels is an amalgamation of such architectural and sculptural metaphors encoded into the vocabulary of the Indian threshold, be it a grand entryway into a town, the markers that define the boundaries of a village, the gateways of a sacred building, or the humble doorways of a home.



The artwork, also called chattan, is around 1000 sq. ft. in area and had to be made in 13 sections out of  FRP (Fibre reinforced plastic). Stone statues of gods and dwarpals, total 34 in numbers, were fitted at site into this fibreglass cliff. Moulded in different contours and shapes, was matched in colours of the natural stone. The artwork was first brought and installed at mockup then further taken to T2 building at level 2 for installation. The FRP pieces of chattan were fixed one above the other and held together by means of metal framework (sub frames) with base plate to support the weight of the idols. The cutouts were made in FRP structures to fix stone idols as per their locations, contour and sizes. The heavy idols were lifted and placed in the  cutouts by chain pulley arrangement. Further finishing touches were given by filling in the gaps, matching the colour  to stone idols to make it look as if the idols are carved out of one single piece of stone - chattan.



Having worked extensively within the mural painting tradition of Kerala, Suresh Muthukulam, in Celestial Realm, draws from its strict iconography, colour symbolism and visual language. The ‘mural’, divided into three sections – the lower, dedicated to figures of welcome, the next by figures/deities  that manifest power and the upper by the ashtadikpalakas, the guardians of the eight cardinal directions representing harmony in the Universe. Encoded into the panel are various elements derived from Kerala’s popular culture – the anachamayam or elephant decorations, aalavattam or peacock feather fan ceremonially placed behind the idol of the deity, the shanka or conch blown to announce the wakening hour, and the ratha or carriage which bears the deity during the annual festive processions. Asuras or demons are shown playing the mizhavu, an indigenous percussion instrument while other figures hold the nadaswaram (a wind instrument) and the idakku (small drums)as though to greet visitors with music and to awaken the gods.  Like in the classical Kerala mural, Muthukulam has not used pencils or pens to draw the forms. The first outline is drawn with a brush in light yellow. Details are then added layer by layer, the forms are then filled in and the contours softened by shading. There is no realistic perspective with a single vanishing point. Instead, the key characters dominate the composition while the ancillary figures are depicted in a much smaller scale and often, in the hasya rasa or comical attitude, lending a sense of humour to the composition. The background is treated to create a diffused atmosphere, deliberately patinised to suggest antiquity and timelessness. Certain figures have been imbued with tremendous movement, others emanate stillness. Some figures have been left unfinished, others painted over, as though the mural were revealing layer after layer of its history.



One section of the Silents Sentinels, features the cultural objects of the Naga tribes of North-East India. These individual stark wooden artefacts needed a backdrop to  make them read together as a part of one installation.  The artist Moreshwar Patil decided to take inspiration from the textiles of Nagaland. Naga shawls are boldly patterned in black, white, red and dark indigo. Made from a mix of cotton and wool they are patterned with stripes and painted animal motifs symbolizing the characteristics of the wearer. The design of the shawl has a tremendous symbolic meaning – it can reveal the wearer’s gender, clan identity, as well as social status. “I was fascinated by the rich vocabulary of the Naga textiles and their immense textural quality. My paintings were intended both to represent their diversity as a cultural tradition as well as their visual and physical qualities” says the artist. Patil took various elements from these textiles and composed a series of panels which  when pieced together became large site-specific works. By layering handmade paper on canvas, a crumpled effect was created giving it a textile like texture. Seventy-five panels each measuring 8 x 4 feet were joined into sections of 4 x 16 feet and were assembled at site. Each panel is a distinct drawing of a specific Naga textile. According to Patil, “When joined, the surface will look like an applique of many unique shawls worn by the Nagas”