Thames, Hooghly communities to explore Indo-British relations through art

Kolkata, Oct 31 (IANS) Communities along the Thames in London and the Hooghly river in West Bengal will share their cultural experiences in a year-long artistic exchange through the ‘Silk River’ project that seeks to explore the unique relationship between London and Kolkata.

The project was launched in the United Kingdom on October 5. The India chapter will be inaugurated on November 9 at the Indian Museum here, said director-in-charge Jayanta Sengupta.

The initiative spearheaded by Ali Pretty, artistic director, Kinetika, a UK-based non-profit specialising in community art projects, and Ruchira Das of Think Arts (Kolkata) will see community-based artistic engagement in 10 communities along each river.

The artworks generated through the project will be on Murshidabad silk, with a contemporary aesthetic and incorporating the Patachitra (traditional, cloth-based scroll painting) style.

In the 20 locations from Murshidabad to Batanagar (the Hooghly) and Kew Gardens to Southend (the Thames) the organisers will raise cultural awareness of Indo-British relationship by engaging diaspora communities and connecting young people with artists along the route.

Each Hooghly community will be partnered with a Thames-equivalent based on common themes, such as military links for the Greenwich/Woolwich – Serampore/Barrackpore pairing.

Artist-led workshops in the selected communities will help in creating content that talk about the craft forms and culture.

These stories will be narrated through Patachitra art form and will be distilled into 20 hand-painted Bengal silk scrolls developed in textile residences in Murshidabad (January 2017) and in Thurrock (July 2017) where as many as 30 artists, craftspeople and students in each country, will participate.

The residencies will be led by fashion designer Neishaa Gharat, who represents Bengal’s Biswa Bangla brand in the UK, and Ali Pretty.

Supported by Arts Council England and facilitated by Banglanatak and Crafts Council of West Bengal, the project also involves animated walks with the 20 communities along both rivers, using the silk scrolls.

On January 28, the initiative will be showcased at the Murshidabad Festival organised by the Murshidabad Heritage Development Society.