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Sculpture (MA)

Aliya Orr

Aliya Orr, (b.1986) currently lives and works between London and Montreal/Tiohtià:ke. Her artistic practice moves between sculpture, installation, performance and drawing. After completing her BA in Art and Design in Cape Town, South Africa, she moved to Canada and worked professionally in the multimedia and entertainment industry on projects including LAX Airport, Madonnas Super Bowl and the Sagrada Famillia. Returning to her studio practice, she worked collaboratively under the moniker Light Society with a focus on installation and public art. She moved to the UK to complete an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 2021. Her work has been exhibited internationally. Including the Museum Of Singapore, Arsenal Contemporary Montreal and Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul.

Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesSculpture (MA)RCA2023 at Truman Brewery

Truman Brewery, F Block, Ground, first and second floors

aliya orr

Working across scales of media - from the intimate to the architectural. I am interested in methods of spectacle and ritual and how they are enacted within daily encounters. Allowing moments of potential cosmological belonging to take place. 

I think about sculpture in terms of atmosphere, where space is activated through the coming together of forces; materials, bodies, gazes, hormones etc. These interwoven performative narratives travel through time and space. Hanging in the balance.

My work incorporates live media such as wind, vibration, sound and light both from human and non-human sources. The dynamics between the material and immaterial are explored, constructed and played out in various mediums allowing for degrees of opacity, chance and the unfathomable. 

In this way, the unknown is a continuous force in my work. Faith and its reliance on uncertainty becomes active methodological principles.

Growing up within the Islamic faith and outsider Sufi communities across various geographies, allows me to draw and explore a fluidity of cultural and religious imaginations.

All this is set against a personal negotiation of my own freedoms. The conflicts and contradictions that arise in living between different spaces and belief systems. This allows for an exploration of constructing identities and emotional passages through processes of belonging, longing and home beyond physical realms.

Installation View of the work

A band of travellers, drifting beings cast out on a fugitive voyage are brought together through the embracing of a strange path. Exiled and estranged they move in opaque flows of mutating systems and algorithmic patterns. Surfing the paradox and seeking a third way, they embark on a journey without destination. Their mode of transport, a musical boat.

‘Night Journey explores voice, embodied movement and materiality as interwoven agencies for cooperative emancipation. The work entangles histories, ambiguous mechanisms and improvisational somatics, exploring ideas of cross-generational healing and mutual becomings through sound, sculpture and performance. 

The boat is inspired by a reimagining of an ancient drawing of 12th Century Islamic polymath Ismail Al-Jazari’s musical boat, one of the first recorded examples of a mechanical automata. On board the original vessel, a group of Qiyan*, transformed into mechanical puppets, sound and chant exaltations and lamentations for the Caliphs delight. In this work, the boat is repurposed as a symbol of liberation and transition.

Through a repurposing of organ pipes, cymbals, vibrational coils and pneumatics, song, drone and vocal toning are combined with AI processing, to bring about a vibrational and generative reimagining of the original work. Referencing Sufi chanting, ecstatic poetics within mystical traditions, noise is explored for its trance inducing potential. 

 *Qiyān were a social class of women, trained as entertainers, which existed in the pre-modern Islamic world. Qiyān is often rendered in English as 'singing girls' or 'singing slave girls', but these translations do not reflect the fact that qiyān might be of any age, and were skilled entertainers whose training extended well beyond singing, including for example dancing, composing music and verse, reciting historical or literary anecdotes, calligraphy, or shadow-puppetry. 

Original drawing of Al Jazaari's Musical Boat
Original drawing of Ismail al-Jazari's Musical Boat


Sound Sculpture and Performance


450 x 200 x 190 cm
artwork displayed
close up of pneumatic pipes
installation view
ceramic vessel with latex tubing and organ pipes
Breath And Organs


Performative Sculpture, Repurposed mahogany organ pipes, Latex tubing, Steel, Plastic, Glass, 3D printed ceramic, Shell


3d printed ceramic horns and cardboard pipe
3d printed ceramic horns and cardboard pipe
ceramic 3d printed horns, cardboard pipe, wood supports
installation view
3d printed ceramic horns
cow intestine with motor and horn
cow intestines


Cow intestines, Silk String, Fan, 3D ceramic printed horn


200cm x 200cm x 25 cm
gold leaf on wood with chains
Sacred Femme, 2023Gold leaf, wood, silver chains, copper nails
image of sculpture entitled daisy
Daisy, 2023Glass, unfiltered beeswax, waxed cotton
Cymbals, Silk Tassels, Acoustic Exciters, Amp and Media Player
Exciters, 2023Cymbals, Silk Tassels, Acoustic Exciters, Amp and Media Player
hanging sculpture with chains
Cost Of Living, 2022Mild Steel, Gold Foil, Sterling Silver Chain
hanging sculpture with chains
Cost Of Living, 2022Mild Steel, Gold Foil, Sterling Silver Chain

Pure Dog, from mispronunciations series

Pure Dog

I’ve mistaken this heart for a dog

Everyday I've been asking for

a pure dog

a clear dog

a crystal dog

I sit and I wait and I watch

And nothing

Just a dogs wanting

Im trying patient longing

Then something, maybe

Something like a murmur

Or a melting drop landing

Enough to keep going

I’ve tried caressing and caring, tending, sharing

But I’m restless, waiting, clock watching

And I feel this ongoing, this dogged longing

Patience I'm trying

Ongoing, loyal following

Now I’m reaching, grasping and crawling

Downward doging

Arching and aching, this longing for something, keeps calling

These cares and worries and wantings

But nothing moves with the sound of stories, sorries and lorries

As were walking and walking down this narrow path

With dogged longings

Its ongoing

This waiting for the heart and the dog and you God.

قلب- Heart

كلب- Dog




soft pastel drawing on amazon boxes
Manuscript # 8
soft pastel drawing on amazon boxes
Manuscript # 145
soft pastel drawing on amazon boxes
Manuscript # 88


Soft Pastel, Amazon Book Boxes


hand weaving hanging from glass structure
close up detail of sculpture
close up detail of sculpture
close up detail of sculpture

Why does the sky rounding the mountains make itself hidden?

Out here on these waters, cold air circling

Light comes to us in blasts

Everything turns to breath, 

My childhood knew nothing of the power of women

I was blinded by images  

Now I resuscitate stories, planting flowers

Watering weeds

Infinity weighs heavy on the body

As do knotted timezones and histories yearnings

Through voices, distant and familiar, my hands get to work at weaving, shells, nettle, intestines  

To suggest a movement that reoccurs

Migrations that leak categories

I give into knot-knowing

I give into you and I

I am learning to speak my mothers-tongue

See a sculpture as it is, for what is

What a surprise! Birds mingling on a falling horizon 

A mirror casting back at you

When eyes are lifted, rare and giving

Everything changes as soon as it seen 

Materials, light, bodies and gazes, combine into fields

the air is agitated

And differences emerge from within


Glass, hand spun and woven nettle fibre, brass, horse hair, hematite, waxed cotton thread


200 x 150 x 3 cm
worms, ceramic womb, chalk
worms, ceramic womb, chalk
worms, ceramic womb, chalk
worms, ceramic womb, chalk


Performative Drawings, Mealworms, Clay, Chalk, Stone


200 x 200 cm
plastic bag braid with electro dipped metal ropes
plastic bag braid with electro dipped metal ropes
plastic bag braid with electro dipped metal ropes
plastic bag with braided plastic
studio explorations, photographs with extended braid
Sketches for a performance


Black Plastic Bags, Copper, Titanium, Rubber
picture of installation
image of artist within installation
Installation view of a performance of subtle rituals and material magiks in a space between things




300 x 250 x 250 cm