The first thing I did was to kiss the ground2021Commissioned by England's Creative Coast, Cement Fields and Turner Contemporary
The first thing I did was to kiss the ground is a work in two parts: a sculpture and a sound-piece sited at Gravesend Pier. Located at the mouth of the Thames and opposite Tilbury Dock, the work responds to the site; the first point of disembarkation for West Indian immigrants arriving in the UK aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948 and 1950's male migration from ex-colonies such as India, welcomed to rehabilitate post war Britain.
The sculpture has multiple points of reference: a graphical weave of water is painted to look like marble, echoing the faux marble render of the nearby Gurdwara and the prevalence of faked veneers in migrant aesthetics; while its long top-knotted hair evokes the unassimilated Sikh identity of uncut sacred hair — often cut by early migrants to counter racism but reclaimed after Operation Blue Star in 1984, in solidarity with Sikhs in India. Kaur’s work explores the diasporic experience, allowing different cultural symbols to overlap.
The sound work was made in collaboration with artist Ain Bailey and the Saheli Women's Group and evolved from time spent in the local studies archive of Gravesend library researching marginalised community groups who saw community as a form of resistance. The Saheli's self published books in the early 90's and continue to provide 'supplementary schooling' from living rooms and gym halls, teaching mother tongue, prayer, song, dance — things that keep culture alive. The sound is installed off land on Gravesend pier and the sonics of women's voices and meditative rhythms overlap with those of the Thames.