“It was a broad, airy, wholesome street – none of your common thoroughfares, to be rattled through by vulgar cabs and earth-shaking Pickford’s vans; but a self-included property, with a gate at each end, and a lodge with a porter in a gold-laced hat and the doughty arms of the buttons of his Mulberry coat, to prevent anyone, except with a mission to one of the houses, from intruding on the exclusive territory.”
– Edmund Yates
Vishwa Shroff’s work explores spatial and narrative possibilities taken from urban and domestic scenarios. The accidental encounter and shifting modes of attention with which the artist perceives objects allow her to generate a record of isolated artefacts that become the basis of her work. To the artist, the unique features of these architectural motifs are complicated entities that are developed in space and time. As the objects transform, they confront the viewer and change our collective consciousness towards an always shifting balance between permanence and transition. As original artefacts they resonate an acquired memory and attest to attitudes of generations.
Within this framework Shroff documented the floors of six different sites in Camden: John Soane Museum, Charles Dicken’s Museum, British Museum, Camden Arts Centre, Camden Town Hall and Doughty Street in Holborn, all of which were built between 1757 and 1947. While rendered in common memory, these sites hold associations to private anecdotes, attaching themselves both to regional histories and to the history of the Company and Raj periods shared with India. Thinking about these histories in terms of linier time, encompassing the days, weeks and months that have passed between then and now and as cyclical, the works become a record that appears as scars, cracks and discolorations. The distinctive imprints on these surfaces reflect the colonial imagination of the period through repetitive and quantitative appearances on these floors.
To the artist, Doughty Street in particular assumes the form of a book, the ‘pages’ of which become a linear chronology of a historical timeline disclosed in the floor patterns. If looked at in this way the patterns can be seen as temporal maps of architectural fashions, whilst the scars, cracks and markings are both illustrative of durational dialogues and become a snap shot of the moment it was documented. The artist’s drawing method attempts to synchronise the act of looking at the door and the floors as one would while waiting for an answer.
About the artist Vishwa Shroff started her artist training at The Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, Baroda in 2002. She continued on to the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (UK) in 2003. Her career so far has seen five solo exhibitions: Drawn Spaces (2016) and Postulating Premises (2015) at TARQ Gallery Mumbai (IN), One Eye! Two Eyes! Three Eyes! (2012) at the Acme Project Space, London (UK), Memories of a Known Place (2012), Birmingham (UK) and Room: Collaborative Book Show (2011), Vadodara (IN).
Besides participating in artist residencies all over the world, Shroff has also been a part of group exhibitions such as Again and Yet Again (2017) at Gallery OED, , Cochin (IN), Planes of Experience, Zones of Action (2017) at Goethe Institute-Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai (IN), Reading Room (2016) at Saffron Art, New York (USA), Reading Room: Leaves, Threads and Traces (2015), The Winchester Gallery (UK), Bartered Collections ( 2015) by Cona Projects at the Mumbai Art Room (IN) and Memento Mori (2015) at TARQ Gallery, Mumbai (IN). She was the recipient of the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists in 2011.