Like all museums in England, Tate Britain is closed to the public for lockdown. But it's still celebrating art, and the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, in a stunning artwork displayed on the OUTSIDE of the building.
This year's Winter Commission for the London museum is by Chila Kumari Burman. The 63-year-old artist's works draws on feminism, her Punjabi heritage and experience as a first-generation British Asian.
Burman grew up in Liverpool, where her father was popular with local children as he drove an ice-cream van. Ice-cream turns up in many guises in Berman's work in prints, photography, film, collage and mixed-media, along with bright colours and motifs from Indian culture.
Her commission for Tate is called remembering a brave new world. Bright neon swathes the outside of the museum and forceful Indian female figures send an anti-imperialist message. Britannia, who "rules the waves" in British mythology, transforms into Hindu warrior goddess Kali, one of the deities associated with Diwali. Rani Lakshmi Bai also features, a 19th-century Indian queen, one of the leaders of the 1857-58 Indian Mutiny against the Empire, who fought and died alongside her soldiers. The monkey god Hanuman is also there, Ganesh and Lakshmi deities for luck, as well as life-size Indian animals and, of course, an ice-cream van.
The Diwali festival of lights is normally celebrated by the London Indian community in Trafalgar Square. This year the event moved online for 5-day duration 12-16 November. Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists, it celebrates the victory of light over darkness and is associated with luck and the goddess of wealth Lakshmi in particular.
This topic would make a great addition to Shine Bright 2e File 7 British generations, which features a video about Diwali in Trafalgar Square.
Tate Winter Commission: Chila Kumari Berman
Till 31 January 2021
Tate Commision images © Tate (Joe Humphrys)
All other images © Chila Kumari Burman; All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2020