Mixed media including wood, Idenden, sand, paint
640 x 200 x 200 cm
The Frieze and The OWO Sculpture Commission
Location: Raffles London, The OWO
Convocation was the winning proposal to an open call led by Frieze to create a site-specific sculptural commission reflecting the diversity of modern Britain and responding to the grandeur and unique visual language of The OWO’s architecturally significant Grade II* listed former Old War Office in Whitehall. The selection panel was composed of prominent artists and curators including Eoin Dara, Bharti Kher, Eva Langret, Suling Mead and Shalini Hinduja.
Memory and place are central themes in my work.
We remember and experience geography in a variety ways, but architecture is central to anchoring our sense of place. The process by which we identify or recall a geographical location by its built vernacular fascinates me; particularly how certain motifs such as columns and domes are common across the world, yet find such varied and distinct expression from region to region. Such elements are to be found variously in domestic and civic buildings, as well as temples, churches and mosques. In each case, finding a characteristic expression which makes it recognisable, locating it in place, and sometimes also in time.
Migration and tourism compound this variety further, influencing the built environment subtly and in the case of postmodernist architecture, for example, knowingly and deliberately.
I was born in Pakistan and moved with my family to Bradford at the age of 9. This is where I went to school and college, before leaving at 18 to study Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University. Following that, I moved to London for my MFA at the Slade, and my career since then has been based between Oxford and London. All of these moves, as well as the travel I have done internationally for work and family reasons, have made me keenly aware of the visual shorthands we use instinctively to give us our bearings, to conjure where we are or where we have been.
I live across cultures, and my work examines and celebrates this diversity of experience and belief systems. I share this with thousands of British citizens, whose identity has been formed by the extraordinary variety of cultural experience that life in Britain today presents.
Convocation is a sculpture in the form of a column approximately 6m high, that stands in dialogue with the intricacy and grandeur of The OWO, drawing the eye to its cupolas, turrets and wealth of sculptural detail. Taking its architectural influences from across the globe, the sculpture combines a world of visual cues and associations, inviting interpretation, yet functioning allusively to evoke a sense of place beyond itself. The column presents a lexicon of places where viewers can recognise, but also to lose themselves.
The Frieze and The OWO Sculpture Commission, Convocation (2023) by Saad Qureshi, is on view at the Concierge at Raffles London at The OWO, which is now open to the public.
Photography by Angus Mill.