Introducing Motherland to Fatherland

Motherland to Fatherland, image by Shrutika Jain.
Motherland to Fatherland, image by Shrutika Jain.
Editor’s Note: Motherland to Fatherland, an exhibition, is set to open at the India Club at 143, Strand, on the 29th March 2020, 5pm to 9pm. Strandlines invited the project’s creator, Shrutika Jain, to explain how the project came about, and to give an insight into the stories the exhibition will explore.

What is Motherland to Fatherland ?

Motherland to Fatherland: exploring what it means to be ‘Anglo-Indian’. Image by Shrutika Jain.

Motherland to Fatherland is an exhibition that brings to light the existence of the Anglo-Indian community in London. I am curating the project as part of my 2nd year MA Narrative Environments studies, at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

An Anglo-Indian is someone of mixed European and Indian ancestry whose heritage is traced to a European (most often British) father and Indian mother – but not the reverse combination (this is an official definition under the 1950 Indian Constitution).

Motherland to Fatherland hopes to give voice to an ethnic minority of the UK, that is currently living on the edge, and often only seen as a by-product of Britain’s colonial rule in India.

The project will showcase people’s stories by documenting their experiences before and after the Indian independence in 1947, which involved their journey from India to Great Britain.

What is the driving force behind this project? How did you go about creating it?

Stemming from my personal interest in the colonisation of India, I was looking at ways to connect India and Great Britain, wherein I found the fascinating community of Anglo-Indians currently living in London whose stories give an alternative lens to British colonialism and Indian Partition.

Since summer 2019, I have been researching and conducting personal interviews of the members of the community; documenting their memories, stories, objects and lived expriences with a focus on the migration from India to Great Britain. With this exhibition, I aim to highlight the delicate relationship between longing and belonging that this community faces.

What is so unique about this community?

Anglo-Indians were offsprings of British Colonialism in India. It is a unique community which arguably brings together the best of both cultures in their own way. Post Indian Independence in 1947, and following the subsequent exit of British from India, the community has witnessed a steady decline. Throughout history, they have been unrecorded and undocumented due to their mixed race background. The country-born Anglo Indians around the world are currently living in their 70s and 80s; giving us the last opportunity to hear their untold stories. It is now or never to hear what they have to say, about the Anglo-Indian way of life.

Why did you approach The India Club as a place to host the exhibition?

Both The India Club’s and this project’s vision coincide: that is, to strengthen and futhur the ties between the two nations. It is such a place of meaning, wherein people like to dwell over the past while they socialise and come together to celebrate their history and legacy. It is befitting to see the project hosted at The India Club because it reaches out to not only the Indian community, but also the non-Indian Londoners which this project aims to reach.

Who is this exhibition meant for?

This exhibition is aimed at the Anglo Indian community, especially the 2nd and 3rd generation who were born in Great Britain to take pride in their ancestry. And more importantly, I hope that many people outside this community will visit, to raise their own awareness, and to acknowledge and celebrate this community’s existence in London.

So what are the next steps?

I am currently in the process of building the elements for the exhibit in order to put it together. I am running a crowdfunding Go Fund Me page, and any donations would be helpful towards seeing this project come alive.

I’m also running an Instagram account to begin to advertise the project and reach out to audiences. Follow @motherlandtofatherland on Instagram to stay updated!

8 Comments

  1. Avatar Sharad Jain on 3 March 2020 at 4:46 am

    Great efforts and work taken by you Shrutika

    it may also keep alive the culture and tradition that is so difficult to adapt in this modern era

    sometime in future this Anglo-Indian community will be referred to as a Model community which preserved its ethnic individuality.

    Best of luck and hope your exhibition is sent as a message around the globe.

    • Avatar Shrutika Jain on 5 March 2020 at 8:15 pm

      Thankyou Sharad, your kind words are encouraging. They are truly a vibrant lot — so full of life and welcoming. They bring together the best of both worlds in their own unique way, and these many reasons triggered my interest in the community in order to make this my major project.

  2. Avatar bhavi saklecha on 3 March 2020 at 8:10 am

    Interesting topic. Hope you can repeat it in India as well. THere is s similar Anglo-Indian community and culture in India as well.

    • Avatar Shrutika Jain on 5 March 2020 at 8:13 pm

      Fufaji, your support means a lot. I have given this a thought — to extend the work into India as specially Calcutta currently houses some of the last living Anglos.

  3. Avatar Mr Roy Bartlett on 3 March 2020 at 11:13 am

    I would like to attend I am AI from Pakistan with a English Father & AI Mother

    • Avatar Shrutika Jain on 5 March 2020 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Mr. Roy! Thankyou so much for your interest. May I have your email Id to send over a formal invite?

  4. Avatar Aubrey Brookes on 3 March 2020 at 11:49 am

    I’d love to attend

    • Avatar Shrutika Jain on 5 March 2020 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Aubrey! Thankyou so much for your interest. May I have your email Id to send over a formal invite?

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