Making Space:Sensing Place

In October 2009, along with artist Thurle Wright, I was awarded a Making Space:Sensing Place Fellowship; part of the HAT: Here and There International Exchange Programme, managed by A Fine Line:Cultural Practice. The Fellowship includes residencies with Britto Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Arts Reverie in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with The V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London and with The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Working and collaborating with artists and craftspeople from the UK, Bangladesh and India, responding to the collections and spaces we encounter and sharing these experiences through a touring exhibition and educational workshops.

This blog, which is still developing and being added to, is a record of my experiences during the MS:SP Fellowship. Steven Follen.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Rani Ki Vav

Step wells or 'Vav' are unique to the region, they are a form of subterranean architecture, an elaborate
means of obtaining water. Most consist of an series of steps going down to the water table they include platforms, pavilions and stone framed supports along the way.
The Rani Ki Vav or Queens step well is said to have been constructed for Udayamati, Queen to Raja Bhimdeva 1 (1022-1063) in the 11th Century. Bhimdeva 1 was the son of Mula Raja the founder of the Solanki Dynasty.

This step well is a huge structure, cut into the ground some 20m wide 27m deep and 64m long, it includes a draw well and tank and has a multi storeyed pavilion supported on pillars. Their elaborate design makes them social and resting places.

Through time the Vav had became filled with soil and damaged by flooding and neglect, little of the structure and intricate carving was visible above ground and knowledge of the structure fell from living memory.

After National independence the Vav was placed in the custody of the Archeological Survey of India and was declared a protected monument of national importance.

In 1958 excavations began followed by the restoration of the building, returning stones and carvings that had collapsed into the well back to their original positions.

The carvings represent gods and demigods from Hindu Mythology and include Mahisasuramardini, Parvati, Vishnu, Lakshiminarayana, Bhairava, Ganesha, Surya, Kubera, Ashtadikpalas, there are also Asparas, Nagakanyas and Yoginis.

 The carvings are increadibly well preserved considering their age.

The Building also includes examples of geometric pattern aswell as the figurative work. 

"The symbolic associations of ablution and journeying to the womb transform the mundane act of fetching water into a spiritual experience."