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Noble Sage presents Grass Roots

17th – 26th February 2012

An art installation by Sandhya Pai

The Noble Sage is delighted to welcome Indianartist, Sandhya Pai, and her first London installation, ‘GRASS ROOTS’ (2012). Born in1982 in Karnataka,India, and a graduate of the Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, Pai’s work for several years has explored themes such as the home ritual and the shrine-like space, the energy andvisual aesthetic of the collective and the snapshot memories of our pastsas photographed by us as well as by our elders.

In her past installation ‘My Father’s Third Wedding’ (2010) Pai created a shrine-like space in Maidenhead’s busy high street. Shethen invited viewers to move around the cluttered space and look at themany drawings of photographs of Pai’s village history in open booksand boxes. The transparency and honesty of Pai’s presentation ofhistory was deliberately alluring.

Nine days after the momentous tragedy that was 9/11, Pai created thesublime performance installation, ‘20/9 Worship’ in herancestral village in Karnataka. On the occasion of her father’ssixtieth birthday, and with the reaffirmation of her parents’ maritalvows at that same event, Pai daringly placed large drawn images of his pastthroughout the space, high up, so that they were included in (if notinterrupting) all audience visual participation in the rituals andcelebrations. These images often showed moments in her father’shistory that interwove with the pasts of many present at the ceremony. Inthis way Pai showed literally the veils of history through which weconstantly view the present.

‘Grass Roots’ (2012) at The Noble Sage continues Pai’s thematic interests in congregation and group purpose coupled with ritual, memory and history. However she evolves a form first used in Kerala in 2008 with her installation ‘Landscapes and Memories’ I. There she grew paddy grass outlines of the map of Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, live in the gallery. These outlines related to her walks where she viewedmany different cultures of people living close together in the town.Amongst and above these grass paths she placed drawings relating to the people and scenery she saw along the way.

In ‘Grass Roots’, Paiagain looks to literally connect with the earth, this time, rather than paddy, using crushed newspaper pulp as the base for her installation. The incorporation of this pulp is significant: it is the stuff of words and letters that together makes up our living recent history made into aparadoxically non-recognisable, non-readable, natural soil-like surface.From this ‘soil’, or as Pai describes it ‘thissource’, emerge figures from Pai’s history, in back and white,like little idols of real life for us to worship in this extinguished pyre.

The images project everyday life tobe holy and worthy of reverence and physical orbit. As we circle the huge installation we invoke memories of Hindu rituals in the temple, wherethe planetary idols or certain deities are circled three times by devotees.There is a religiosity in the installation that comes through in the piece.The artist likens the energy she wants to create in this work to thedynamism of any mass social movement or any collective at a religiousgathering or celebration. She sees the work as a metaphor for socialtransformation, inspired by her witnessing of the recent London riots and the anti-corruption movement in India.The title, ‘Grassroots’, in this way, relates to ground level shifts, social and political as well as within the family and the community.

Event Details

Sandhya Pai’s ‘Grass Roots'(2012) will be on view from the 17th – 26th February by appointmentonly. To make an appointment contact the gallery on

Private View: Friday17th February 2012, 6-8.30pm

Location details

The Noble Sage Art Gallery, 2AFortis Green, London N2 9EL (near East Finchley tube). Map

The Noble Sage is open by appointment only. If you would like to view the collection, please contactt he gallery on orby phone on 07901944997.

The gallery is free to enter and open to all. The Noble Sage specialises in Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani Contemporary Art.