Partition of India exhibition launches in Birmingham

Opportunity to see how momentous event shapes modern life.

The ongoing impact of one of the most momentous events in modern history, the Partition of India in 1947, is being explored in an exhibition of new artworks, presented by leading Birmingham-based organisation, Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage and supported by the National Lottery through Heritage Lottery Fund.

The People of Partition in Birmingham is a free new exhibition which is exploring how people living in Birmingham today understand the 1947 Partition of India. The exhibition has been curated by artist Tasawar Bashir, in collaboration with 20 volunteers from the West Midlands who have helped to co-curate and design the display.

The exhibition champions local stories and insights and features creative responses to some of the themes surrounding Partition, such as collective displacement, turmoil and changing identities.

The exhibition team began to develop the artworks during a series of workshops held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery during the summer of 2017, with the aim of reflecting some of the complex feelings and thoughts evoked by the subject of the Partition. They drew inspiration from personal stories of people who were directly affected, as well as powerful memories passed down within families.

The exhibition marks the mid-point of an 18 month project called The Partition Trail, led by Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage and supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project is examining the lasting impact of the Partition on communities in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Many of its related themes, such as the concept of changing national identity, invisible partitions in today’s society and the impact of migration on younger generations, remain globally topical today.

Now, the new exhibition aims to highlight the importance of continued conversation and learning about Partition. One of the artworks will give visitors a chance to help build the project’s research by creating a data visualisation which maps their physical and emotional response to Partition by using coloured strings to map where their families originated from and where they went on to settle in Birmingham.

Visitors will also be able to hear personal stories relating to Partition via a series of audio boxes as well as watching filmed interviews on a large plasma screen.

Tasawar Bashir, lead artist for The People of Partition in Birmingham exhibition, says: “Working collaboratively with the volunteer co-curators has really empowered them to challenge traditional approaches to making art and encouraged them to think about the many different ways in which they can respond creatively to complex themes. As a result they are helping to tell the story of The People of Partition in Birmingham in a sensitive but thought-provoking way.”

Urmala Jassal, Sampad’s Associate Director and Partition Trail project manager, adds: “The People of Partition in Birmingham exhibition will provide a compelling insight into the Partition’s lasting impact on the cultural landscape of our city and its residents. We hope that it will also encourage the younger generations from South Asian communities who have been indirectly affected by Partition to gain a deeper understanding of their cultural heritage”.

THE People of Partition in Birmingham runs from 16th November-29th April 2018 at Soho House, Soho Avenue, Birmingham B18 5LB. Admission is free and there’s no need to book. Soho House is open 11am-4pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and the first Sunday of the month. Check for updates.