April 07, 2017, New Delhi: Following the official launch hosted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth four weeks ago in the UK, the British Council today announced exciting year-long initiatives to mark the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 programme in the presence of Rt. Hon the Baroness Usha Parashar and Alan Gemmell, Director, British Council in India. To celebrate the launch, the iconic British Council building was lit up with a grand projection of Indian dancers inspired by the peacock image which had been projected on to the glittering Buckingham Palace at the UK launch event.
Among a host of initiatives to celebrate the best of British and Indian cultures, the British Council launched the latest version of its international award winning interactive digital platform called Mix the City Delhi to mark the beginning of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017. Created as a collaboration between India and UK artists, this online platform invites young audiences to discover the sights and sounds of Delhi and create their own music mix. Mix the City Delhi brings together 12 Delhi musicians to showcase the diversity of sound, music and cultural influences of the capital and is curated by British music producer ‘Boxed In’.
Originally conceived during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK in 2015, the UK-India Year of Culture aims to celebrate the strong cultural and people links between the two countries through events, partnerships and collaborations. Along with Mix the City Delhi, and several cultural collaborations and projects, 57 new UK India partnerships were also announced under UKEIRI to extend the relationships in education.
Marking the commencement of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 in India, Alan Gemmell OBE, British Council Director India said, , “The primary objective of the UK-India 2017 Year of Culture is to further strengthen our ties and deepen our understanding of the past as well as help us appreciate the contemporary faces of both the UK and India. We hope this year long programme will set the trigger for a more meaningful and deeper cultural relationship between the two countries.”
On Mix the City Delhi, Alan continued, “Mix the City Delhi brings 12 renowned Indian musicians to phones and tablets across Britain and India and lets people create and share their own Delhi music video. This world-class digital and cultural innovation means that a global audience will be able to see, hear and share the amazing Delhi music scene and the beauty of the city - making everyone a little bit of a Delhiite on their mobile!
Launch of UK-India Year of Culture 2017 with large-scale projection
The peacock, both regal and dramatic, is the perfect metaphor for a year of incredible cultural events connecting the UK and India. This was specially created by Carrom, a design company with roots both in India and the UK. The peacock, India’s national bird, offers an iconic motif which on a larger level arguably stands for both India and the performances the Year of Culture will host in both the countries. It encompasses different people and traditions that make India such a diverse and unique country. The peacock’s plumage display is reminiscent of the Indian fireworks, a symbol of celebration and festivities.
Studio Carrom: “We wanted to ensure people knew this was about India, but which would also surprise and intrigue people, encouraging them to follow the UK/India Year of Culture. It needed to be cool and contemporary as well as reference India’s rich cultural heritage. We were drawn to the idea of performance and dance as it encompasses different people and traditions that make India such a diverse and unique country.”
Alan Gemmell OBE, British Council Director India: “It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to project an image onto the façade of Buckingham Palace. The peacock, both regal and dramatic, is the perfect metaphor for a year of incredible cultural events connecting UK and India. By using traditional motifs in a cool and contemporary way, Carrom have come up with a stunning image for one of the world’s most iconic facades. It did delight Londoners and made them curious to find out more. The image has been adapted for a special projection on the British Council Delhi’s iconic building for one night only on 6 April.”
Mix the City Delhi
About the curator:
Boxed In is the alias for British singer, songwriter and record producer Oli Bayston . The outfit is a four-member act whose name is partly inspired by Francis Bacon's infamous painting Head VI, once described as "the operation through which the entire body escapes through the mouth", a phrase which also seemed to befit the act of singing. They have released two albums so far, the first was the self-titled album in September 2015 and the second one in September 2016 titled Melt.
About the artists:
Curtain Blue: Curtain Blue is Abhishek Bhatia's solo project. Vocalist of Delhi-based band, The Circus, Abhishek has also been producing his own electronic music.
Sharat Chandra Srivastava: He is a North Indian classical violinist of the Senia gharana.
Aditya Balani: He is a multi-faceted musician who wears many hats as a composer, guitarist, singer-songwriter, music producer and educator. He has been performing extensively across the country and abroad in festivals like the Delhi International Arts Festival, NH7 Weekender, Jazz Utsav, Congo Square Jazz Festival, Shisha Jazz Fest, TEDx, Aquajam Festival, TaBlu Jaipur and Literary Fest.
Saskia Rao de Haas: Saskia is a virtuoso cellist and composer from the Netherlands based in New Delhi.
Shubhendra Rao: He is a composer and sitar player who is ranked amongst the top soloists of India. A protégé of Ravi Shankar, and has performed at prestigious venues and festivals like the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Broadway, the Sydney Opera House, the National Arts Festival, the Theatre de la Ville, and the Dover Lane Music Conference.
BLOT! : Amongst India’s foremost underground electronic music and mixed media performance and production outfits. In the six years since BLOT! first emerged, they have delivered an inspiring run of music releases, immersive audiovisual sets as well as innumerable art installations. They were part of the London Design Biennale installations as part of the India Pavilion in September 2016.
Shishanath: A folk musician from Delhi, Shishanath represents a dying breed of folk music traditions from the city which plays the “been” a wind instrument that was traditionally played by snake charmers.
Vidya Shah: Has a significant musical background. With her fondness for and exposure to the North Indian style of classical music, she decided to make a foray into this style of vocal music. She has trained under music icon Shubha Mudgal in Khayal Gayaki and with Shanti Hiranand in Thumri, Dadra and Ghazal.
Vishesh Kalimero: Vishesh Kalimero is a musician and sound healer who has been travelling around the globe for more than 5 years, learning and sharing with people from various cultures and traditions. He spent 8 months in Guatemala in 2014 and 2015 where he was introduced to the magic of Cacao. His music also has a deep shamanic influence, which he incorporates seamlessly in the cacao ceremony to create a sublime experience.
Superfuzz/ Sanchal Malhar: An alternative rock band from Delhi.
Frame/ Frame: is an electronic music outfit from Delhi.
Gaurav – Rhythm Delhi: Gaurav is a folk musician who plays the dholki, a classic folk instrument popular across north India.
The UK-India Year of Culture 2017 Programme highlights in India will include:
British Film Institute’s restoration of an Indian/British/German co-production Shiraz is a silent film which tells the love story of the 17th century princess who inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal. Planning is now underway for the film, which has rarely been seen in India since 1928, to be screened in India with the Taj Mahal forming a backdrop to the event. Both screenings will be accompanied by a live performance of a specially commissioned score by composer and sitar player Anoushka Shankar. Subsequently Shiraz will screen at festivals and cinemas across India as a symbol of the partnership between India and the UK.
In late 2017, internationally renowned contemporary dance company Company Wayne McGregor will tour ‘FAR’, an acclaimed dance production which includes a stunning multimedia backdrop of 3,200 LED lights that dance to their own ‘choreography’, to cities across India. Studio Wayne McGregor is also working with the British Council, Flying Object and Roll Studio to create Mix the Body, an interactive platform in which users choreograph and direct their own short dance piece.
In August, the British Film Institute’s National Archive will make an unparalleled collection of 300 newly digitised films that were shot in India during the early 20th Century, including the oldest surviving footage of India on film from 1899 – travelogues, documentaries and home movies – available to audiences in the UK and across India for the first time, as part of India on Film. The collection Around India With A Movie Camera will be available both as a feature length highlights programme for cinema and community centre screenings, and available to view for free on the BFI Player.
The British Museum will stage a landmark exhibition - India and the World: A History in Nine Stories - showcasing some of the most important objects and works of art from museums across India, in dialogue with iconic pieces from the British Museum collection. The display will be structured over nine stories, reflecting key chapters in India’s history. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalya (CSMVS) in Mumbai, the British Museum, and the National Museum in New Delhi.
Arts Council England’s Reimagine India will support 17 artistic exchanges between artists and arts and cultural organisations in England and India, in collaboration with the British Council. Projects include a series of commissions and exhibitions/performances by mid-career Indian artists developed with Manchester City Galleries; a partnership between Asian Arts Agency and Watershed, Bristol; and Outlands, a project with female choreographers by 2Faced Dance.
The British Council and award-winning Aardman Animations are collaborating on a unique project as a part of UK India 2017: Saptan Stories is a giant game of consequences played out across the whole of India. Seven world-class artists, from both India and the UK, each illustrate a seven-part story, resulting in 7 different visual interpretations of one unique story. Via an interactive digital platform the public will be invited to contribute their story ideas and vote on how the story develops, before being illustrated by the seven artists.
A partnership between Film London’s Microwave programme and India producers Cinestaan has resulted in a new feature film, The Hungry. A contemporary remodelling of Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty Titus Andronicus, and realised by debut Indian director Bornila Chatterjee, co-writer and producer Tanaji Dasgupta and London-based producer Kurban Kassam, the film will premiere on the international festival stage in autumn 2017, before simultaneous premieres in London and Mumbai.
A significant Welsh presence in UK/India 2017 will be ensured through the India Wales Fund, a joint fund from Arts Council Wales and British Council India, which will fund 12 arts projects designed to enable Welsh and Indian creative professionals to collaborate and produce new works. Cultural organisations and institutions including the National Theatre of Wales, Chapter Arts and Cardiff Dance Festival will take part.
There will be continued celebration of the strong links between Scotland and India with projects across art forms. This includes a collaborative music programme with workshops and interactive activities by EXODUS & Paragon and Brian Molley Quartet; a new collaborative project by Glasgow-based Counterflows Festival, Littlei, EarthSync & Pepper House, a touring exhibition and digital photography exchange by Fòcas Scotland & National Institute of Design. British Council in partnership with Creative Scotland will support further projects as the season develops.
A new series of Random Acts – Big Dance Shorts jointly produced by Channel 4/Random Acts, Big Dance and the British Council. An exciting and high-profile platform for collaborations between film-makers and choreographers that will see four outstanding 3-minute dance-film ideas selected and commissioned for the Random Acts Programme. Each film will have at its heart an element of collaboration between UK and India.