We have a cultural feast awaiting us this winter at the Museum of Croydon.
A free exhibition inspired by Subrang Arts (a Croydon-based Gujarati community organisation) focuses on the journey made by the Gujarati people from their homeland on the west coast of India to the UK via Africa from the 1860s onwards.
The exhibition, called Gujarati Yatra: Journey of a people documents the stories of individuals and communities who made this monumental voyage, through a collection of objects, which reveal the art, language, literature, food and religion of the Gujarati people. ‘Yatra’ means ‘journey’ in ancient Sanskrit, in case you’re wondering.
Being a bit of a fan of textile design, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the sari exhibition, as well as the contemporary embroidery. The latter, which will be displayed in the Clocktower Café’s Click Clock Gallery, is influenced by Gujarat’s history and forms part of the overall exhibition.
There are lots of events already planned to get us involved. On Saturday 18 November there’s a family day at Croydon Clocktower, where there’ll be storytelling, clay pot painting, Indian music and more. The following Saturday (25 November) sees a programme of talks at Braithwaite Hall – the highlight for me there, is the V&A Museum’s curator for the South Asian Department talking about the history and influence of Gujarati-made textiles. The talks are also free folks, but best reserve your places in advance on Eventbrite here.
Fast forward to February (it feels a long way away I know) and there’s a day of film screenings on Saturday 24th at the David Lean Cinema. ‘From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf’ is the film for me, as it follows the physical crossings of groups of sailors from Pakistan to Southern Iran. Again reserve your seats on Eventbrite here.
Gujarati Yatra has been curated by oral historian Rolf Killius and chair of Subrang Arts, Lata Desai. For Lata particularly, the exhibition is linked to her personal history, as her own family made the journey from India to Africa and Britain. Therefore she brings a considerable understanding of the story of this pilgrimage to the exhibition, and has also been researcher and project manager. She adds, ‘We spent many months collecting the stories of members of the Gujarati community and working with them to create the exhibition and events programme… In this way the Gujarati community has co-curated the exhibition.’
We can’t wait to get down there. The exhibition opens on Tuesday 14 November, and runs until 14 April 2018. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm (except public holidays). Find out more here. And don’t forget it’s all free.
Images courtesy of the exhibition.
Posted by Julia.