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

The Sun Temple at Modhera

The Sun Temple complex at Modhera consists of three elements. An open Mandapa, with some 52 intricately carved pillars, sits above a stepped water tank. Behind the Mandapa is the Nritva Mandapa (Dancing Hall) and the Garbagriha, an inner unlit chamber.  The temple complex is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya and is aligned east - west so that light penetrates the Garbagriha on the spring and autumn equinox.

The tank was used to perform ceremonial ablutions before worship and is surrounded by many smaller shrines, each dedicated to a god includng Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesh.


It was built in AD 1026 under the direction of Raja Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty but was plundered, defaced and damaged during the regions many wars with invaders. Despite its abuse, the detail of the architectural carving is stunning, even today nearly 1000 years later. The temple is now under the supervision of the Archeological Survey of India.

  The Mandapa with the Garbagriha behind.

 The Mandapa and its many columns.

The carvings depict the Sun God (in twelve states), Dikpalas and scenes from the Hindu epics.

Looking out towards the tank.
 Looking in towards the Garbagriha

The Garbagriha.

Whilst at the temple we met other visitors, some of the women were Rabari and wore traditional tattoos which they regard as jewellery. The designs are both decorative and indicate an individuals lineage and tribal grouping. The tattoos are often applied over a series of sessions when a child reaches puberty.