A touring photography exhibition explores the impact India & South Asia had on contemporary British life
By RAHEEMA KHAN
A touring photography exhibition which celebrates the shared heritage of India and Britain has arrived in Yorkshire.
Telling its story through a series of striking photographic images, the exhibition documents the diverse histories which make up the shared heritage of India and Britain from 1870, the earliest image in the exhibition, to the present day.
Curated to coincide with the India-UK Year of Culture for 2017, the exhibition grew out of a decade-long research project exploring South Asian and Indian-British connections. Spanning almost two centuries – from the period of the British Raj through to the better-known era of post-war migration to today – the exhibition, and an accompanying website, is a visual history of India’s impact on Britain’s cultural, intellectual and political life, national and global politics, human rights and equality, the arts and sport.
Famous personalities are celebrated, alongside images of the ordinary and every day. The images also document moments of adversity and the discrimination faced by those who made their homes here in Britain.
Dr Maya Parmar, who is one of the curators of the project and is of South Asian heritage, told Asian Sunday how relevant the exhibition is to people of South Asian origin, especially as it forms a crucial part of British Asian identity. “I often look to see how South Asians fit into the history of British culture and this is clearly visible through the photographs at the exhibition” Said Dr Parmar
Professor Susheila Nasta, who is the Project Director said; ““By touring this outdoor exhibition, we want to swivel the perspective and examine India’s role within Britain (rather than Britain’s well documented historical presence in India). The images trace Indian-British interactions across the divides of race, class, and gender, drawing public attention to the complex realities of both countries’ intertwined histories. The accompanying events and online tools will reach wide public audiences. We hope this will fire imaginations and provoke reflection so we remember the huge impact India and South Asia have had on contemporary British life.”
The exhibition, which has been supported by The Open University, the University of Exeter, the Nehru Centre, the High Commission of India and also curated by co directed by Dr Florian Stadtler, who collaborated with Dr Parmar and Dr Nasta, started it’s tour in Edinburgh last month and will end in Leeds this month.
Visitors can expect a plethora of images from giants of history such as Gandhi pictured visiting female textile workers in Lancashire, the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore photographed in London to one of Dr Maya’s favourites a striking image of radical sista Djing at a daytimer in a club in Bradford, taken in 1988. “in those days women couldn’t really go out during the night and so they would go during the day and have their disco and fun. It tells a very powerful and empowering story” Said Dr Parmar.
These are just some of the fascinating stories you will get to see at the exhibition, which runs until 26 October at Victoria Gardens in Leeds.
For more information about the exhibition or any of the supporting projects go to http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/asianbritain
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