9 October 2017
Festival and exhibition represent first twinning of Gaelic traditions with South Asian art and culture in Scotland, writes Catherine Maclean, Special Projects Curator at An Lanntair.
The Purvai 2017 festival features Collector Extraordinaire, the first ever exhibition of Colin Mackenzie’s renowned India collections.
Born in Stornoway in 1753, Mackenzie became a famous explorer, leading a life discovery in India as a soldier, engineer, polymath and collector. He produced some of the first cartographic maps of the country and went on to became its first Surveyor General.
The exhibition includes works on loan from the British Museum, British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Mackenzie’s collection provided context and inspiration for creative collaborations between artists engaged with Purvai 2017, drawing from both Gaelic and South Asian traditions.
A specially commissioned score entitled Yatra (Journey) was inspired by Mackenzie’s journey from the Isle of Lewis to India in 1783. Composer Dalbir Singh Rattan led a diverse collective of performers as they depicted Mackenzie's trip through traditional Gaelic vocal songs about travel and seafaring, and traditional Indian raag and folk music.
Yatra acts as a counterpart to the exhibition, bringing to life Mackenzie's story through music and visuals. It also tells a wider story about a historical journey made alive and present via artists working today to represent traditions in an innovative way.
In January 2018, the Yatra performance will travel to India with the support of the British Council and Creative Scotland partnership. There a talented group of musicians brought together by composer Dalbir Singh Rattan, will immerse audiences in a journey between countries and cultures, set to a stunning backdrop of moving imagery.
We very much look forward to engaging audiences in India through their shared heritage with Scotland.