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Ranjani Shettar, In the thick of the twilight, 2023. installation view of Ranjani Shettar: Cloud songs on the horizon
Barbican Conservatory 2023. courtesy Barbican Centre, KNMA, Ranjani Shettar © Max Colson, Barbican Art Gallery

Since the start of fall in 2023, the Barbican’s iconic conservatory showcases a site-specific installation by Indian sculptor Ranjani Shettar. Named Cloud Songs on the Horizon, the public art exhibit consists of five sculptures handcrafted by Shettar in her studio in rural Karnataka, India. The sculptures, featuring floral elements and intricate organic forms evoking otherworldly creatures, are suspended across the entire 23,000 sqft space, weaving through its vibrant array of plants and trees from across the globe. 


With an artistic journey spanning two decades, Ranjani Shettar (find more here) draws inspiration from a close observation and study of the natural world. Delving into the subjective progression of time in nature, her abstract creations seek to evoke what she terms ‘adaptations’—those imperceptible and innumerable processes of change and metamorphosis taking place amid the various species of any given environment. As visitors traverse the space in the Barbican (find more here), they encounter sculptures integrated into the lush foliage or gliding above the serene koi pond. Crafted from a repurposed teak wood pillar or shaped from a stainless-steel base and enveloped in handwoven muslin cloth, Shettar’s works employ techniques derived from traditional Indian crafts.

Each sculpture is designed to be appreciated from various angles, prompting exploration as Shettar beckons us into the Conservatory, encouraging a contemplative gaze at every tree, flower, leaf, and plant. The intention is to foster an appreciation for their individual rhythms, prompting a deliberate pause to recognize the embedded cycles of transformation within each element. Similar to the ever-shifting clouds above, the sculptures silently undergo continuous metamorphosis, inviting us to acknowledge this subtle, perpetual transformation.

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