Sian's Pics

From sensual Chola bronzes to hypnotic works with light, discover Sian's favourites from the archive​


What is your role at Bridgeman?

I've been at Bridgeman for over a decade and in that time I've worked in finance, admin, cataloguing - you name it! I now work in Customer service for the London sales team, where I look after all the academic and 'one-off' clients, mostly authors who are researching and licensing images for their next book. I also supply admin and picture research support to the whole team.


What do you love most about the job?

My clients are the best part of the job. Most people who come to me have never licensed images before, and I really enjoy helping them through the process. They are clearly passionate about the subjects they write about, which extends to the pictures they use. Because of them, I get to see a new picture every day. Even after all my years at Bridgeman, it is amazing to think there is still so much of the archive I haven't seen. 


What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive?
That the images we have on the website are all we can supply. It is very satisfying telling a client we can source an image from our suppliers, when they've been searching high and low for it themselves without success. 


 Nataraja, Shiva as the Lord of Dance, 1000s. South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola period (bronze), Indian School / Cleveland Museum of Art, OH, USA / Bridgeman Images



Shiva Nataraja

This beautiful sculpture could be credited with changing my life. After seeing it I decided to pack myself off to India for two months, something I had never contemplated before, and so began one of the most significant experiences of my life.

That's the power of art - it can open your eyes to a world and a way of thinking that up until that moment you've been entirely ignorant of. The sensual grace of the Chola bronzes were a revelation to me. The fact that people of the 10th century could render their gods and goddesses in such an earthy and expressive way was beyond anything I had seen before. 

The Bridgeman archive has a wealth of South Asian art in all its forms, so I don't have to go to India to feed my appetite for it (although...).



Portrait of a Gentleman in his Study

I've chosen this image, not only because it is gorgeous, but because it reminds me of a lovely email exchange I had with one of my clients.They asked me if I thought the rose petals in the painting symbolised a cure for melancholy. They had read in Robert Burton's book 'The Anatomy of Melancholy' (dated 1621) that roses were an effective cure. I didn't really agree with this interpretation, but it did make me look at the painting with fresh eyes. The rich symbolism in art is endlessly fascinating, and hearing a client's ideas is one of the great perks of the job. 

 Portrait of a Gentleman in his Study, 1528-30 (oil on canvas) (post restoration), Lorenzo Lotto / Galleria dell' Accademia, Venice, Italy / Bridgeman Images
 T'ai chi class in East Malaysia, Borneo - wide shot, rainforest in background / Courtesy of Creation Company Films Ltd / Bridgeman Footage


T'ai Chi class in East Malaysia

Anyone who knows me would not be surprised I've chosen this clip! As a dedicated T'ai Chi practitioner I am always boring people about the transformative power of this ancient martial art. I've even been known to practise T'ai Chi stepping on quiet tube platforms, causing other passengers to move slowly away from me! This clip of a T'ai Chi master and his students shows a grace and elegance of movement I can only dream of. They make it look so easy- believe me, it isn't! 

One of the great things about the Bridgeman archive is there really is something for everyone. Whatever your passion, there is bound to be something of interest to you.



Nine Dragons

These two dragons are actually part of a much longer scroll painting. Seeing the whole thing was another revelatory moment for me. The energy and vibrancy of the nine roiling, writhing dragons is certainly something to behold.

The refinement and beauty of Chinese painting never ceases to amaze me, particularly the work of the Southern Song dynasty, from which this scroll dates. I love that this detail shows the creatures expressive faces so clearly, each has  their own distinct personality.

 Nine Dragons, Southern Song dynasty, China, 1244 (detail) (ink & touches of red on paper), Chen Rong / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA / Francis Gardner Curtis Fund / Bridgeman Images
 Caper, Salmon to White: Wedgework, 2000 (LED and fluorescent light), James Turrell / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA / Museum purchase funded by the estate of Isabel B. Wilson in memory of Peter C. Marzio / Bridgeman Images



James Turrell

If I had to choose a favourite contemporary artist, James Turrell would probably be it. His hypnotic work with light transports you to another dimension. This work is from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, whom we represent. Their collection is outstanding and the photography is excellent. You can feel the pulsating power of this work even through the high resolution file!





Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin is another favourite artist of mine. Her work, seemingly so simple, actually speaks to me of infinite complexity. Given the circumstances of her life - she suffered from schizophrenia and lived alone most of her adult life - you have to admire the calming, meditative quality of her work. It makes you wonder what would have become of her if she hadn't learnt to express herself in that way. I know it's a cliche, but we would all be a lot poorer without art in our lives.

Untitled #20, 1974, Agnes Martin / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images



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