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dyeing the tigers stripes



These photographs look at the experiences of people from the Indian Subcontinent living in Britain. The relationship between these nations began with the arrival of the East India Company in Asia in the 16th century. The East India Company ruled for hundreds of years, until the breakdown of the British Empire. The British Crown and government then ruled until the battle for independence was won in 1947.

 

This separation from Britain led to the biggest refugee crisis the world had ever seen. British India was split into West Pakistan, India, and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Millions of people, my grandparents included, had to travel hundreds of miles to their new home, in a mist of violence and fear which lead to the deaths of up to 2 million people. 

 

Despite this long and dark history, many of the people involved in these horrendous histories ended up living in Britain. My grandparents settled in London in the 1980’s and never left.

 

Over 50 years later, we are still seeing the aftermath of India’s partition halfway across the globe in Britain.  Communities once living side by side, now stand separately even in their new westernised contexts.  This work brings these estranged groups together in order to question the cause of these conflicts. 

 

The fabrics dispersed throughout the work are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India and representative of each unique culture. Their colours and traditional patterns allow us to move between community spaces and homes, uniting groups that are separated.

 

The colour and vibrancy seen in the fabrics and the photographs displays an aspect of Britain’s shifting cultural landscape. This project reflects how the historical relationships between the Indian Subcontinent and Britain has shifted to our contempary one.

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