Cairns #2

Kaur, Jasleen
Jasleen Kaur explores the malleability of culture and the layering of social histories, within the material and immaterial things that surround us. She works with sculpture, video and writing, her practice examining diasporic identity and hierarchies of both colonial and personal history. Fluidly moving between sculpture, video and writing, Kaur initiates work that enables her to make sense of what is out of view or withheld. Cairns #1 and Cairns #2, both 2017, are part of a series of three touch lamps constructed from an assemblage of found rubble, bricks, chrome-plated components and artificial rock. Their title refers to a mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark. The works are influenced by the actions of the artist's father, who for 30 days prepared a joth (ghee candle) and placed it on a derelict plot of land by their house within a shelter of bricks and tiles. Her family was advised by a Sikh saint to light the joth at sundown each day to ward off negative energies. These sculptural works restage this devoted, cleansing ritual, but with a material slippage; the burning flame becomes an electric light source operated through the touch of a hand, a reference to the mass-produced, touch lamps sold in migrant-run shops. Rubble becomes an imitation rock or slate, a metaphor for cultural transformations and aspirations in the diaspora.
  • Artwork Details: 28 x 28 x 48cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Touch lamps, rubble, bricks, chrome plated components, artificial rock
  • Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist
  • Theme:
  • Medium:
  • Accession number: ACC37/2021



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.