Funding Organisation: Asian Cultural Council
Site: Kathmandu, Nepal
Media:  Lithograph, one colour
Dimensions:  1220mm x 570mm
Signed, limited edition

CAPTURING THE COSMIC SEA is a limited edition lithograph representing a Vishnu shrine in the Kathmandu Valley that narrates Nepalese mythologies relating to the origins of the cosmos. The series was fully funded by a grant from the Asian Cultural Council, 6 West 48th Street, 12th Floor, New York, New York 10036.

The Vishnu temple at Budhanikantha uses architecture to capture rainwater and to depict the ‘creation myth’ of Vishnu sleeping upon the serpent-king in the cosmic sea. Another temple architecturally depicts this serpent-king Karkotak Naag residing in the last residual pool of the cosmic sea at Taudaha.  Water from this pool was said to feed the royal baths of Kathmandu; the architecture of the baths depicts the cosmic sea and water flows from architectural elements carved in the form of the serpent-king. A temple near Machhegaon combines architecture with nature to describe the Vishnu story of Machhe Narayan emerging into his fish incarnation. Visitors see two natural pools of water plus one rectangular pool in-between, as if the natural pond has been transformed into a sacred body of water. In Dhum Varahi, an architectural shrine tells the story of Vishnu rescuing the goddess Earth (symbolized by a pipal tree).  A temple containing a Vishnu statue was constructed between the exposed roots of a young pipal tree. As the tree grew over time, the roots have embraced the Vishnu shrine to the point of crushing the temple, as if in symbolic depiction of Mother Earth’s thanks for her salvation.

My professional goals have centered on how architecture can directly respond to cultural imperatives through narrative, and ultimately how studies of traditional architecture can help reestablish critical links to ritual in contemporary architecture and society.  I believe that the future of architectural design lies not in western design overwhelming the east, but rather in the west fully understanding, engaging and incorporating eastern sensitivities into contemporary design, actively celebrating unique imperatives from the east rather than running the risk they may be lost forever.


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