This blog primarily follows the progress of my four year Leverhulme funded project (2018-22) on The Rāmāyaṇa in Art: The Development of Narrative Imagery (5th-10th centuries CE). The blog begins as I set off on an epic 100 day adventure around India and Bangladesh, exploring and mapping the ancient sites which had or have temples adorned with scenes from the Rāmāyaṇa. I’m looking forward to sharing artistic marvels with you along the way.
As a material culture specialist, the point of departure for my research is always a work of art, a monument, or an ornamental architectural fragment. My research draws on the fields of art history, archaeology, literature and religious studies. I seek to develop an in-depth, detailed understanding of the iconography, materiality and the formal qualities of a subject, while analysing it as the outcome of processes of cultural production, and also as an agent of cultural production.
I’m fascinated by all aspects of art and architecture including: colour (though these days I mostly work with sculpture); visual stories; insights into how people lived, worshipped, thought, felt, saw; artists, practice and patronage; the relationships between visual, oral and written narratives; the interplay between landscape and monuments; the life-span of an art work; how the perception, meaning and function of an object (or building) can change over time or when it enters a museum; the art market, and so on.
I am interested in art from across the globe, but after seeing the wonderful exhibition on ‘Chola – Sacred Bronzes from India’ at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2006, I knew the study of South Asian art history was the path for me. I enrolled on a Masters degree at SOAS in Art History and Archaeology, where I focused especially on South and South East Asia. After another year of travel I began my doctorate (CDA) at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, and the British Museum. Following a Gonda Fellowship at the International Institute of Asian Studies in Leiden, I began an Early Career Leverhulme Fellowship in the department of Religious Studies and Theology at Cardiff University where I’m currently based.
“Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.” William Blake