Thursday, 20 July 2017

20 July 2017, Kolkata: As part of the UK India Year of Culture,UK and Indian artists have been working together to produce ten large silk flags, during a residential workshop in Murshidabad, as part of the Silk River project, which celebrates the unique relationship between communities along the Thames and Hooghly River.

UK based Kinetika and Think Arts from India and an international team of  artists, writers  and photographers have captured and interpreted the experience of journeying along these two mighty rivers.

Working in 20 locations from Murshidabad to Batanagar (Hooghly) and Kew Gardens to Southend (Thames) to reinterpret a shared heritage, Silk River will raise cultural awareness of the Indo-British relationship through engaging diaspora communities and connecting young people with artists along the route.

Silk River culminates in September-December 2017 with two river walks where the stories of the 20 locations will be revealed to local, national and international audiences through the showing of 20 giant hand-painted Bengali silk scrolls and accompanying performances.

A film, directed by Steve Shaw, which documents the work of a team ofUK artists working with a team of Indian artists to produce ten large silk flags during a residential workshop in Murshidabad, was screened at Nandan III on 20 July 2017. The Kolkata flags were on display at the event.

This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘The importance of place and community in traditional arts’ chaired by Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director British Council East and Northeast India. Panelists included Ali Pretty, Artistic Director Kinetika,

Says Ali Pretty, Artistic Director Kinetika: “Silk River transposes Kinetika’s walking, talking and making model to an international context for the first time — a tool for re-imagining the relationship between India and the UK and changing our perception of our place in the world. Bringing 32 years of experience working between Kolkata and London I am excited to collaborate up with a team of talented artists and producers from both countries to create new artworks on Bengali silk and connecting thousands of people through what promises to be an extraordinary journey. Come walk with us.”

 Says Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director British Council East and Northeast India: “Silk River involves organisations in UK and West Bengal who work in heritage, culture, craft, tourism and education. We are delighted that this exciting project is part of the UK India Year of Culture, which seeks to showcase innovative and creative work from both countries, building deeper connections between communities.”

Notes to Editor

Silk River Walk India – 6-17 December 2017 

  • 6 December: International Place-making Seminar Azimganj
  • 7 December: Silk River walks begins: Azimganj to Hazarduari
  • 8 December: International artists exchange workshop on board boat from Murshidabad to Krishnanagar
  • 9 December: Krishnanagar visit to sculptors studios and local artists and former Indigo Estate
  •  10 December: Boat to Chandannagar, exchange with lighting artists
  • 11 December: Visit Chandannagar Strand boat to Barrackpore
  • 12 December: Visit to Gandhi Ghat and Museum and Serampore Block Printing studios, hosted by Future Hope
  • 13 December: Boat to Kolkata, visits to Kumartuli, Jorasanko and Marble Palace
  • 14 December: Tour of Burrabazaar and Howrah
  • 15 December: Visit to Kidderpore docks
  • 16 December: Tour of Batanagar/Calcutta Riverside and cross river to Botanical Gardens
  • 17 December: Finale at Victoria Memorial


Kinetika is an internationally renowned company with an 18-year track record of combining world-class design with community projects to produce spectacular outdoor events that engage diverse audiences wherever we work. Founded by artist Ali Pretty in 1997, and inspired by her training in carnival arts in Trinidad and India, Kinetika now has an unrivalled reputation for working with local communities on projects that change the way people feel about where they live. From local community events in shopping centres, ceremonial boulevards and local high streets, to the Great Wall of China and the heart of Kolkata. Our charitable arm, Kinetika People, is known for its high quality community engagement work, running participatory programmes, workshops and artist training schemes, which aim to nurture new artistic talent and engage communities, raising aspirations and building a sense of place.

Think Arts
Think Arts was founded in Dec 2013 to bring imaginative experiences for children and young people through an engagement with the arts. In the last three years, they have reached over 15000 people, mostly children and young people, across three cities in India, working in schools, museums, heritage spaces and art galleries. Apart from creating unique art-engagements for children, they also present performances for young companies by companies from India and abroad. They are currently working on collaborative projects with artists based in England, Scotland, Wales and Germany.

Rural Crafts and Cultural Hubs West Bengal
Co-ordinated by Banglanatak on behalf of The Govt.of West Bengal and UNESCO. Banglanatak is a social enterprise working at grass roots level with a mission to foster pro-poor growth and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The organisation uses culture based approach for development and community skill empowerment. Theatre is used to educate people on diverse social issues, mobilising community led action, life skill development and participatory research. In 2000, Banglanatak created a portal on theatre in Bengal after months of in-depth research, which proposed the idea of using our cultural heritage as a tool for community empowerment by engaging them in building community awareness and creating local champions for advocating change. Today the organisation has covered more than 2500 villages across 23 states of India. Every campaign design involves research to understand communication needs, identifying local partners and finally training them to become advocacy champions.

Biswa Bangla encourages innovation, provides design assistance, opens direct sales points, improves quality and supply chains for the handloom and handicraft products of the state under the brand Biswa Bangla. It also focusses on back-end interventions to develop new products so that more weavers and artisans can be brought under the project; and on reviving products that have almost disappeared. On another level, a team of folklife and cultural heritage specialists, representing a wide range of expertise and experience, design and implement traditional arts research projects and create public events, education programmes, folk art collections and exhibitions.These activities serve to provide increased access and support to the craftspersons, weavers and their work. Biswa Bangla has opened showrooms at the Kolkata and Bagdogra Airports, Dakshinapan and Rajarhat in Kolkata and on Kharag Singh Marg in Delhi.

Crafts Council of India – West Bengal
The CCWB has been working since 1966 to find avenues for a better life for crafts persons both as part of their larger community and that of the natural environment. Its role is not just that of a catalyst, but also as a beneficiary of the resulting harmonious socio-economic order. It is a non-profit making voluntary organisation head-quartered in Chennai, Tamilnadu committed to the preservation of the traditional crafts of West Bengal and Eastern India through research, documentation, design and development and marketing at the grassroots level. Today CCI works together with a network of 9 State councils. Activities include technology programmes, design interventions, workshops and collaborations with museums by organising live demonstrations by crafts persons and Folk performing artists.

Murshidabad Heritage Development Society
The Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS) was born in 2010 to make people conscious of their heritage for its preservation. The Society is supported by spiritual leaders, architects, ayurvedic health-care specialists, NGOs, State Tourism Department, Union Ministry of Culture etc. To make people aware of India’s rich heritage, the Society has undertaken several programmes, including Murshidabad Heritage Festival, Boat Race, Heritage Walk Map of Azimgani, Sheherwali Cuisine Recipe Book and Kitchens of India Festival, World Heritage Day and Week at Victoria Memorial Hall, and a Vocational Training Centre.

For more information on the Silk River project:
Facebook: @silkriverkinetika
Twitter: @SilkRiver2017

For media queries, please contact:

Shonali Ganguli, Head Communications British Council East India
T: +91 (0) 33 40074315
M : + 91 (0) 9836569994

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.

 About UK/India 2017UK/India2017 is a year-long celebration of the long-standing relationship between India and the UK, which will see a vast programme of cultural exchange and activity take place in cities across both countries. Working with a huge number of partners and institutions, the British Council is developing a programme of cultural activity which will connect and inspire people in both countries; and strengthen and celebrate the UK and India’s cultural ties. For more information on UK/India 2017 please visit