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Cloud songs on the horizon

The Barbican, London

Opening September 10

Barbican announces plans for a spectacular site-specific commission by Indian sculptor Ranjani Shettar in its iconic Conservatory this autumn.

Cloud songs on the horizon, the artist’s first major institutional show in Europe, will feature a series of new, large-scale suspended sculptures across the entirety of the Conservatory’s 23,000 square foot space. A tropical oasis in the heart of London, the Barbican Conservatory is home to a vibrant mix of 1,500 species of plants and trees from across the world. Shettar’s sculptures, currently in production in her studio in southern India, are each handcrafted by the artist and draw inspiration from the complexity of nature. They will employ a range of materials including wood, stainless steel, muslin, lacquer and techniques that have been adapted from traditional Indian crafts.

“Ranjani’s installation inaugurates a new Barbican series of site-specific commissions which will allow artists to directly engage with the architecture and public spaces of this modernist icon. With these collaborations, the Barbican is offering itself to the most inspiring artists working today, platforming important, challenging new work for an ever-expanding audience. Their perspective and interventions will not only allow us to continue to grow our own appreciation of our building and legacy but will also crucially guide us in meeting and knowing our present moment – and there could not be a more perfect artist than Ranjani Shettar to start us on our way."

-Shanay Jhaveri, Barbican Head of Visual Arts

Shettar’s commission, realised in partnership with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), will be the first public-facing project commissioned by the Barbican’s recently appointed Head of Visual Arts Shanay Jhaveri, initiating an ambitious programme of public art across the Centre’s iconic site which is visited by more than a million visitors each year.

“Ranjani Shettar’s practice has been of particular interest to the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) since we first acquired and installed her work at the museum in 2011. We have been closely observing her artistic evolution that combines her rare sensitivity with patient working. The site-initiated project at the Barbican Conservatory is well aligned with our collaborative efforts at bringing visibility and critical attention to the huge talent of Indian and South Asian artists across the globe.”

Kiran Nadar, Founder - Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

"Over the past twenty years Shettar has evolved a distinctive, process-driven visual language that is entirely her own. Her suspended abstract forms transform enduring modernist preoccupations, through a profound sensitivity for materials and a deep embodiment of an ecological consciousness, all emanating from a local context. In their elegant quietude they achieve something astounding, gently raising our awareness, to query how is it that we are connected spatially, materially, emotionally to this world.”

Shanay Jhaveri