‘Early Photography and Archaeology in Western India’ exhibition in Mumbai extended by popular demand
Image by the British Council
The compelling exhibition ‘Early Photography and Archaeology in Western India’, which was initially scheduled to end on 16 February 2023, has been extended by popular demand. The exhibition will now run until 30 April 2023, giving visitors an extra two weeks to explore the link between photography and archaeology in the 19th century. The exhibition is a part of the India/UK Together, Season of Culture – a programme of Arts, English and Education that celebrates India’s 75th anniversary and builds on the British Council’s commitment to creating opportunities between the two countries.
In its third collaboration with the British Library, London, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai showcases an immersive visual journey telling the story of the discovery of India’s architectural and archaeological heritage seen through the photographic record. The exhibition brings to public attention the history of exploration and documentation when major monuments and archaeological sites were photographed for the very first time by European and Indian archaeologists. While the historic photographic prints form the core of the exhibition, a number of new comparative photographs also document the present state and setting of selected historical monuments and sites, providing an opportunity to reflect on issues of protection of heritage sites, challenges and conservation needs.
Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India, British Council, said, “India/UK Together, a Season of Culture celebrates the friendship and vibrant cultural bonds between India and the UK and also marks India’s 75th anniversary. The must-see exhibition “Early Photography and Archaeology in Western India” showcases for the first time some of the rarest, earliest, and most eye-catching photographs and objects from India’s rich archaeological heritage, that would be complemented by photographs by contemporary Indian photographers that are sure to transport one back in time.”
The audience can travel chronologically through six sections showcasing photographs produced by Thomas Biggs, William Harry Pigou, Shivshankar Narayen, Robert Gill, Edmund David Lyon, Sykes and Dwyer, and Henry Cousens. These were scholars, officers, and photographers employed by the East India Company to document the unique architectural heritage of western India. From the 1850s through the 1890s, projects carried out by these seven photographers also chronologically trace the progressing contemporary technologies of photography being invented throughout the 19th century, which were employed by them in their works. The photographs from the collection of the British Library have been displayed in India for the very first time and have been carefully selected to include some of the most important archaeological sites from the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka including Satrunjaya, Somnath, Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Kanheri, Nashik, Aihole, Badami, Pattadakkal and Hampi to name a few. This selection also complements the CSMVS archaeological collection and the display is enriched with sculptures from the very sites these photographs document.
Image by the British Council
Quote by CSMVS, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General, CSMVS said, “The exhibition “Early Photography and Archaeology in Western India” has been a project that has long been imagined by the British Library and CSMVS and we are delighted to be able to present this to our audiences in our centenary year to draw focus on to the great monuments of western India and the art of photography, both of which are in a unique amalgam in the Museum. Through this endeavour, the British Library and CSMVS, aim to present an invaluable resource to Indian audiences for the first time with a compelling and interactive exhibition featuring side-by-side historical photographs, contemporary photographs and archaeological collections.”
Roly Keating, Chief Executive,British Library, said, “This exhibition marks another significant milestone in the long-standing collaboration between the British Library and CSMVS, one of our key partners in India. Making our collections accessible to everyone is at the core of the British Library’s mission, so we are delighted to be able to share these historic photographs with audiences in India. We are also particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work alongside colleagues at CSMVS to curate this exhibition and for both institutions to share their specialist knowledge and expertise.”
The CSMVS a pioneering educational institute and patron of heritage arts in India, has gone a step further in a collaboration with Studio Goppo of Santiniketan to physically produce handmade photographic prints using 19th-century processes of salted paper and albumen prints giving audiences the rare opportunity to appreciate them as they would have been seen in the 19th-century.
The exhibition “Early Photography and Archaeology in Western India” has been supported by Cyrus Guzder and the British Council and is part of the “India/UK Together, a Season of Culture’. The season celebrates and strengthens the bilateral relationship, friendship and vibrant cultural bonds between the two countries and also marks India’s 75th anniversary.
The Exhibition is curated by John Falconer Exhibition Curator and former Lead Curator Visual Arts/Curator of Photographs, The British Library.