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Stainless steel, PETG, paint

Dimensions variable

Sky Arts Landmark commission

Location: Grizedale Sculpture, Ambleside, Cumbria, UK


Flight is a sculpture 2m high, with wings in the dragonfly’s resting state. The work was commissioned by Sky Arts for Landmark, their series on public art.

When I was a child in Bewal, in Pakistan, my mum and my aunt used to take in Persian carpets for washing. The rugs would be laid out on the roof to dry, with strict instructions to errant children not to go near them and risk making them dirty again. I was enchanted by dragonflies, and my cousin Maria and I used to chase after them and try to catch them. To our frustrated astonishment, the dragonflies seemed attracted to the rugs on the roof, and would fly off and settle on them. It was as though they knew this was their safe zone. I began to think of dragonflies as these alluring creatures with wings like stained glass, who themselves were drawn to pretty things, and instinctively knew how to keep out of danger.

These personal associations were set into a rich fabric of cultural omens and superstitions that abound in South Asia surrounding animals, birds and insects. For example, it’s believed that if a dragonfly comes to rest on you and closes its wings, then you are in for seven years of good fortune.

In folklore across the world, they symbolise positive change, self-realisation and a mental and emotional breakthrough to deeper understanding and wisdom. The development of the infant dragonfly to its mature magnificence is one of nature’s great metamorphoses. But rebirth and hope are the province of everyone, whatever their age or background, and the dragonfly is the perfect symbol for manifestation, positivity and inspiration uniting us all.

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