ENSHRINE // CORBANS ESTATE // 2016
A deep contemplation on how and where sacredness can be placed within contemporary society runs throughout Tiffany Singh’s practice. Drawing upon ritualistic traditions and ceremonial practices, Singh’s multi-sensory installations are a visual and holistic encounter. Singh’s work is said to transport us elsewhere, to somewhere other than the urbanised environment; “re –sacralising a landscape that has been de-sacralised by colonisation and the general encroachment of Western consumerism.” 1
Enshrine, the latest meditative installation by Singh is influenced by the teachings of Anicca (impermanence) and the repeating cycle of life, death and rebirth. This is played out literally and metaphorically within this exhibition with concepts and mediums being recycled, refreshed and reformatted from past installations. For Singh the installation itself is a personal acceptance of Anicca. Echoing this teaching of impermanence is the continuous rejuvenating state of nature; nature also being a vital and constant element in Singh’s practice. Installations are often made from a cross section of naturally and ethically sourced materials. Enshrine comprises of locally harvested flora from Corban Estate Arts Centre which will be incorporated into and regularly revitalise the domestic-sized shrine works. Religious boundaries are transcended in Singh’s practice as she often amalgamates Eastern religions with Western into a unified holiness which is reflective of the artist’s own diverse heritage. On her paternal side she is Punjabi Indian and Samoan and Pakeha on her maternal side.
Inter-secular deities and spiritual symbols are fused together in bees wax in the Samsara temple series (2013-2015) of domestic shrines. Congregated together in a subdued pastel palette is Ganesha, alongside the Virgin Mary with lotus flowers and the forbidden apple. A central figure in these works is Thepanom the Thai deity that became Buddha’s protector, then guardian of religious temples and artefacts, they are often represented kneeling on both knees with hands at the prayer position. All the idols nestle within a temple-like structure of copper on recycled Kauri podiums. These materials further symbolise the ever-changing state of the environment today; with bees dying off, Kauri Dieback disease, and even copper is being superseded by fibre optic cables in telecommunications.3 The title of the work contains Samsara a Buddhist term for continuous cycle of birth, life and death (reincarnation) until transcendence is attained and these shrines seem to be hopeful of reaching this higher state and signify faith in humanity rather than mourning what is lost already.
The Samsara Mandala (2015), a geometric floor pattern pays homage to natures’ inherent intelligence, the hexagonal repetition refers to the complex honeycomb pattern naturally created by bees, it is also an abstracted response to the sacred geometric flower of life.4 Working with nature Singh uses rice and salt - an abundantly occurring substance that in many cultures represents fertility and purification. Suspended above are hanging offerings filled with harvested natural materials in different states of change floated in glass orbs.
Singh is recognised for her grand scale installations. Her commissioned installation for the 18th Sydney Biennale (2012) comprised of thousands of fair trade bamboo wind chimes in two sites - a large pier shed and Cockatoo Island. Fly Me Up To Where You Are Singh’s collaborative public project has involved over 15,000 flags made with decile one and two children and has been travelling since 2013 to major city centres both nationally and internationally. Here within this heritage homestead, the works in Enshrine take on a domestic proportion, they serve as a reminder to find sanctuary in our homes and in our daily life.
Kathryn Tsui (Curator) December 2015