This Saturday (16 October) Byram Arcade will play host to a new kōlam art installation by University of Huddersfield postgraduate Preethi Ravichandran, as part of the Historic England Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Cultural Programme led by Chol Theatre.
Preethi Ravichandran is currently studying for an MA by research in the Centre for Cultural Ecologies at the University of Huddersfield. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including recently as part of the Sangam Festival.
The artwork will be created on the floor in part of Byram Arcade with rice flour, using traditional kōlam patterns. As part of the event, which will run from 12 midday to 2pm, the artist will provide an introduction to the artform. Members of the public can then watch the creation of the work, and learn more about Preethi’s art and research from displays and additional information.
Creating kōlam patterns is a daily ritual among Tamil Hindu women living in Tamil Nadu, in south-eastern India. It is created by taking a pinch of flour between finger and thumb, and letting it fall in a continuous line to create the desired patterns. These are drawn on the floor and at the door of houses, businesses and temples.
The Byram Arcade Kolam will include references to the lion from Lion Chambers in St. George’s Square, the Ramsden Crest and Byram Arcade. A colouring sheet of the Byram Arcade kōlam will also be available at the event, to colour in there or take away as a memento.
This event is being organised and managed by Communities Together. It is the latest in the extensive HSHAZ Cultural Programme centred around St George’s Square, part of the Historic England and Kirklees Council funded four-year Huddersfield HSHAZ (2020-24) which focuses on the renovation of two key buildings – the George Hotel and Estate Buildings.
Preethi Ravichandran, MA student and kōlam artist, says:
“I grew up with these beautiful kōlam patterns every day, hence it has naturally been my primary subject for my research.
“There are different types of kōlams, called by various names communally and regionally in India. But fundamentally, it symbolises happiness, auspiciousness, prosperity and divinity. Perhaps what is most striking about kōlam is that much of the time it is ephemeral, transitory and impermanent. I am proud to be able to make, introduce and display this traditional artform and thank the HSHAZ organisers for making me a part of the programme.”
Councillor Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, says:
“Through the Huddersfield HSHAZ Cultural Programme we’re breathing new life into the town centre, celebrating its heritage and the richness and diversity of our local community.
“It’s exciting to see historic local spaces used to share art, culture and learning, bringing people together to enjoy iconic parts of Huddersfield in new ways.
“Preethi’s beautiful artwork, which symbolises happiness and prosperity, feels like a fitting way to celebrate Huddersfield’s beautiful and resilient town centre, and our wonderful, diverse community.”
Dr Tosh Warwick, Huddersfield HSHAZ Cultural Programme Coordinator, says:
“By bringing new activities and artistic outputs to the heart of Huddersfield in St George’s Square area, the HSHAZ programme is creating new ways for people to engage with and experience the town’s historic spaces. We hope that this first of three artist commissions will create new interest in the project and inspire future artworks based on Huddersfield rich cultural and migration heritage.”
More information on the Huddersfield HSHAZ can be found at https://historicengland.org.