24 October 2017 - 4 February 2018
Terra Firma, Pallavi Paul
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Spring 2017 Residency artist Pallavi Paul has made a new installation, Terra Firma, for the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge inspired by the secrecy and histories of the top-secret code-breakers of Bletchley Park. During her residency at Wysing Arts Centre, she visited and accessed archival material from the Bletchley Park collection for the new commission.

Terra Firma is installed as a ‘carpet’ in Gallery 8 of the Fitzwilliam Museum, amongst the collections of 16th to 18th century Spanish and Flemish art. With the upholstery acting as a textual landscape on which museum visitors can walk, the text on the carpet appears like concrete poems. Inspired by the secrecy surrounding the work that was being undertaken at Bletchley Park during WWII, the central motif is the word ‘secret’, with changing permutations of words around it. These concrete poems are composed to visually look like code and contributes a distinct, stylistic accent to the gallery.

The commission ties in with a new exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum "Codebreakers and Groundbreakers", exploring the groups involved in breaking WWII codes and those who deciphered the ancient script of Linear B – Europe’s earliest comprehensible writing system. Terra Firma has been installed just before the entrance to the exhibition, responding artistically and philosophically to the exhibition.

Pallavi Paul's new work is part of the University of Cambridge’s 'India Unboxed' series celebrating 70 years of Indian Independence and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2017. She was in conversation about her work on 27 October, 1.15 - 2pm in the Fitzwillliam Museum’s Seminar Room as part of the Festival.

Terra Firma is co-commissioned by University of Cambridge Museums and Wysing Arts Centre. It was supported using public funding by Arts Council England and with support from Diversity Art Forum and the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. With thanks to Bletchley Park.