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India: the Art of the Temple

13 Hydref 2010

Explosion at end of Shekhari sequence

A Cardiff University expert has contributed to a British Museum exhibition exploring the visual culture of India's enduring religious traditions.

Professor Adam Hardy, Welsh School of Architecture, has conceived a multimedia display of temple forms for the ‘India: the Art of the Temple’ exhibition, taking place at the Shanghai Museum in China.

The multimedia animation is being played on a large screen as a creative piece to sit alongside the physical works in the gallery to represent the temple building. The animation is based on the forms and principles of Indian temple architecture of the three main religions - Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Inherent in Indian temple architecture is the process of emanation and proliferation, expressing the hierarchies of gods and the evolution of the universe. This process begins with geometric shapes moving through to complex and dynamic cyclical patterns that emerge and expand from one another. A musical accompaniment has been especially composed to emphasise this rhythmic structure.

Professor Adam HardyProfessor Adam Hardy

Professor Hardy, Cardiff University said: "For a long time I have been arguing that Indian temple architecture embodies particular patterns of growth. Until now I could illustrate this only through diagrams or gestures, though I have long felt that computer animations would be a more definitive way of demonstrating that such patterns are inherent in the forms. This project has been a great opportunity to do just that."

The exhibition is a collaboration between the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and features iconic pieces from their collections that span more than ten centuries. The cultural story of India’s traditions is being told through a breath-taking array of stone sculptures, metal images, paintings, textiles and terracottas.

Earlier this year, Professor Hardy started work on designing an Indian temple in the 12th century style of the Hoysala dynasty of south India – a style that hasn’t been practised for over 700 years. He was specially selected to work on this prestigious project due to his expertise in the field of Asian architecture.

This project and the animation display are the most recent assignments for PRASADA (Practice, Research and Advancement in South Asian Design and Architecture), based at the Welsh School of Architecture.

The research centre aims to integrate academic research with creative practice through publications, design consultancy work, teaching and postgraduate research programmes. It is dedicated to the architecture, visual arts and material culture of South Asia.

The exhibition runs until November 15th 2010 at the Shanghai Museum, China. The animation project has been funded by the World Collections Programme.

The animation can be viewed below:

Animation credits

Concept and drawings: Professor Adam Hardy, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
Animation: Simon Fleming and Craig Macleod, Campbell and Co., Edinburgh
Music: M Balachandar (mridangam), Balu Raguraman (violin) and B Sampathkumar (nadaswaram), Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London

To view the animation as an MP4, please visit the British Museum website

Related links

  • The Welsh School of Architecture
  • PRASADA (Practice, Research and Advancement in South Asian Design and Architecture)
  • British Museum