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India in Britain – celebrating a shared heritage

A major touring exhibition based on research from the OU and the University of Exeter to celebrate the long history of the Indian presence in Britain and its impact on British life has been shortlisted for an Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award 2018.  “At the Heart of the Nation” exhibition is one of the finalists in the Community Engagement Award, and the winner will be announced on 22 June 2018.

Telling its story through a series of striking photographic images, At the Heart of the Nation: A photographic Exhibition Celebrating India in Britain documents the diverse histories which make up the shared heritage of India and Britain from 1870, the earliest image in the exhibition, to the present day.

Curated to coincide with the India-UK Year of Culture for 2017, the exhibition grew out of a decade-long research project exploring South Asian and Indian-British connections. Spanning almost two centuries – from the period of the British Raj through to the better-known era of post-war migration to today – the exhibition, and an accompanying website, is a visual history of India’s impact on Britain’s cultural, intellectual and political life, national and global politics, human rights and equality, the arts and sport.

The exhibition celebrates famous personalities, alongside images of the ordinary and every day.  The images also document moments of adversity and the discrimination faced by those who made their homes here in Britain.

By touring this outdoor exhibition, we want to swivel the perspective and examine India’s role within Britain (rather than Britain’s well documented historical presence in India). The images trace Indian-British interactions across the divides of race, class, and gender, drawing public attention to the complex realities of both countries’ intertwined histories. The accompanying events and online tools will reach wide public audiences. We hope this will fire imaginations and provoke reflection so we remember the huge impact India and South Asia have had on contemporary British life.

Project Director, Professor Susheila Nasta, MBE

The exhibition has been curated by Professor Susheila Nasta (OU) in collaboration with Dr Florian Stadtler (Exeter) and Dr Maya Parmar (OU), and is based on archival sources from previous projects, Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950. It is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council between 2007-10), and Beyond the Frame: Indian British Connections (2011-13). 

The current project has been supported by the OU, the University of Exeter, the Nehru Centre and the High Commission of India.

At the Heart of the Nation: A photographic Exhibition Celebrating India in Britain

Tour dates:

17th September – 1st October – EDINBURGH, Edinburgh Mound Precinct
8th October – 15th October – LONDON, London Bridge Pier
16th October – 26th October – LEEDS, Victoria Gardens

For more information about the exhibition or any of the supporting projects go to 

About Author

Rebecca works in the Media Relations team at The Open University. She has a wide range of experience including teaching English as a foreign language, working as a museum and gallery curator and doing media relations for food and drink producers. She has a degree in History of Art and Philosophy from the University of Birmingham and a Masters from City University London. Rebecca specialises in stories from the OU's Faculty of Business and Law, the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, and Language Studies. She also works on publicity for the OU's activities on degree apprenticeships. One of the loves of her life is her little jack russell.

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