It was great pleasure this month to be invited to internationally renowned artists The Singh Twins's Symposium at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Anand was asked to respond to their 'Slaves of Fashion' exhibition & specifically their new works which were created by the Singh Twins. It was great to reflect and therefore talk through the similar theme of Migration, History, Empire, Punjabis, Colonialism in the work of the Apna Heritage Archive. Thanks to Wolverhampton Uni and Creative Black Country for their involvement in bringing these amazing artists to this City of Sanctuary for Punjabis! Such a pleasure and honour to be here!!
We were recently asked to photograph at Black Country Touring's 'Back in 10' production which were very wonderfully dramatised utilising the Black Country Living Museum as its backdrop. They brought to us the reality of life of 1930's Black Country in all its guises using fine actors, dancers, musicians, poets, script and the like. What really impressed us was the representation of Indians who were at the centre of the production. Black Country Touring has modelled its own path utilising diverse leadership and granting opportunity for Indian artists. Encouraging to see.
Anand Chhabra has been invited to speak about the Apna Heritage Archive at the Family Ties Network event on June 8th. This one-day research seminar will explore the overlaps between personal and cultural interrogation of transnational identities through familial representations. This is their first event in the West-Midlands, hosted in association with the VAR Research Centre for Art and Cultural Memory, at Coventry University. We aim to host an exciting event that looks at transnational family from different conceptual perspectives. The FTN have invited three artist/researchers to talk about their practice in the context of Transnational Family, alongside FTN co-ordinator Lizzie Thynne. Special thanks go out to Caroline Molloy for the invitation along with Rosy Martin further bookings and info about FTN here :- https://familytiesnetwork.wordpress.com/events/
Really thankful to the Photo Collections Network for featuring the Apna Heritage Archive on their website. Its great for this project with significant Punjabi history in Wolverhampton and Britain to get this kind of representation. I love the way they are able to link captions and images of the archive on the home page. These then link straight to our website to give further details of the images. Indeed look out for the the PCN as they have great pedigree with very experienced people no doubt they will be key players regarding the future of archives, digital and heritage amongst other things! There is a small membership fee to join as well as opportunities to get involved. Well worth it! Special thanks to Maura McKee and Paul Hermann for helping setting this up! https://www.photocollections.org.uk
At the exhibition we had a visitors feedback booklet and I have been overwhelmed reading about the wonderful comments children and adults have been writing about the exhibition and how they have been impacted by it. Largely 99% have been positive from two lots of visitors book at the exhibition. Its just the kind of feedback we wished for from Punjabis and the wider community.
It was great to have Harr-Joht, Olivia and Tamsin from Historic England past us a visit at the archive space during our exhibition. They felt that the Apna heritage Archive should have representation on the 'Another England' website to profile important stories for 100 years of Black and Asian History in England. Its great for the archive to be profiled on this great project! - Anand Chhabra
You can find out more here: http://anotherengland.co.uk/your-stories/
Its quite hard to quantify and evaluate exactly what the impact for the Apna heritage Archive exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery has had on Punjabi's in the City . A community that is not known for engaging with the arts let alone walking in to the gallery to see it. The photos are just a few I personally accumulated by the visits I took to the gallery. When one of our volunteers turns up to temple in Wolverhampton and as a steward opens the door and one person after the other from all age ranges congratulates him for his fathers photographs being projected at the exhibition. Or when I walked in the first few days of the exhibition and saw a couple and after I was there an hour a gallery steward pointed out to them that I was involved in its creation, she immediately ran put to me and said there is a picture of my brother that I never know existed and yet he had passed away over 20 years and thanked me for preserving their heritage. Or others said it was akin to a religious experience looking at the large scale projections. It may never been known but indeed at least two things have happened as a result of this exhibition is that word of mouth has gone out to many Punjabis in the City meaning it was something to see. Also as an ethnic based organisation we have been given the opportunity to prove our competency in curating and putting this project together thanks to all our partners. - Anand Chhabra
Great to have hosted so many of the regions talented people the heads of various organisations and institutions who wanted to come and view the exhibition for themselves. I personally had great conversations and very encouraging input from all people that came to visit and so have put up a few images here they include (better viewing on an iPad!) top left to top right and bottom left to right :- Glenis (Black Country Living Museum) Harr-Joht,Olivia and Tamsin (Historic England) Peta (Digital and Media Officer ACE) Tarla and Rochelle (Masterji fame and MA student) Andrew Jackson (International Photographer) Caroline Molloy (Senior Lecturer Photography Coventry Uni & me!) Sam Ivin ( Photographer infamous series on migration Lingering Ghosts) Dr Mahoney and Natalie ( Learning Regions Wolves Uni) Emma Chetcuti (Multistory) Richard Lewis (Senior Archivist Dudley Archives) Mohammed Ali (Artist & Knights of the Raj fame) - Anand Chhabra
Its quite hard to articulate the impact that this exhibition has had on the Panjabi community in Wolverhampton. It was only after the first few days visiting the exhibition space after the mad rush and energy in creating and realising it that curiosity drove us to wander in every day for the first week (indeed the whole time the exhibition was on for in my case just to see what the public thought!). There are so many stories but a few pictures here about what I personally as Chair of the organisation experienced at any time I went in. The community have been so thankful about the exhibition in terms of preserving there heritage for future generations to pick upon these themes. Pictures of family held by other members of the community for decades were realise for the first time with tears. Word of mouth about the exhibition spread as its was very well curated and in a beautiful exhibition space at the gallery. Our volunteers witnessed many thankful and praiseworthy comments about the exhibition from all sections and ages from young to old lauding the exhibition and congratulating our volunteers for their work regarding the archive. Indeed primary & secondary schools colleges and university depts all visited with their students across the City and beyond. This lead to an extension of the exhibition for a further two weeks at Wolverhampton Art Gallery to whom we are very thankful! - Anand Chhabra
There has been good impact regionally regarding the exhibition after the launch of the Apna Heritage Archive exhibition in January. Interesting from our region reviews have appeared in New Art West Midlands & Arts Foundry in the Black country. Reviews were written by the writer in residence at Birmingham University Louise Palfreyman. Caroline Molloy a noted writer and senior lecturer in photography at Coventry University and Su Fahy Principal Lecturer at the Faculty of Arts at Wolverhampton University have also written very positively about its content and curation after interviewing Anand Chhabra Chair at BCVA and visiting the exhibition. This is positive for our organisation as an ethnically based organisation as what has been written in these reviews proves our competency in creating projects and presenting them at a high level, its all about telling the stories that have yet been untold in our region. Thanks to these brilliant ladies for their effort in giving the exhibition a have wider reach about Panjabi heritage in Wolverhampton to our region - Anand Chhabra
To see more of what has been written about the Apna heritage Archive exhibtion please go here:- http://newartwestmidlands.co.uk/editorial/the-apna-heritage-archive-reviewed-by-caroline-molloy/
Fantastic to see what others in the region who know a thing or two about art, curation and exhibitions! The Apna Heritage Archive exhibition continues has started on good footing and here are few words about what others are saying about the exhibtion. One of them includes the extension of the exhibtion from the original end date 4th March to 18th March due to popularity of the exhibition! - Anand Chhabra
The opening of the Apna Heritage Archive launch event on 25th January 2018 at Wolverhampton Art Gallery was a moment for me personally to savour and I believe will Iive long in the memory. So pleased that so many Punjabis which comprised of many of the participants and volunteers turned out to celebrate the launch of this inaugural archive in the City's main art gallery of Wolverhampton. It was cold outside but blazing hot inside with excitement, joy and gratitude from Punjabis from all backgrounds faiths and ages! There were so many others from arts based institutions up and down the country as well as regionally that came out to support. It was a rollercoaster ride setting this up in December but very thankful to the technicians at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Exhibitions Manger Tess Radcliffe of making sure it was alright on the night and it was! We had 5 speakers from our partners including the Heritage Lottery Fund and a very articulated speech about the archive and exhibitions importance from our main speaker and confidant the brilliant Bobby Tiwana! Thankful to all who helped make this a night to remember! - Anand Chhabra
The Apna Heritage Archive Exhibition opened on the 13th January 2018 and extended until 18th March 2018. The award winning archive archive is a new resource led by Black Country Visual Arts. The project has developed a photographic archive of 2000 historic images of Punjabi migration to Wolverhampton covering three decades from 1960 to 1989. New portraits taken provide a present day record. Documents and other materials collated provide a context to this unique social history.
You are invited to visit the gallery to see part of this amazing collection that documents the Punjabi communities life in Wolverhampton over 3 decades. From arrival in the 60's to weddings, births, working and social life!
The exhibition is on from 13th January to 7th March 2018 at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield Street W-ton, see www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk for further information and opening times.
One of the highlights of 2017 was the award we received for the Best New Archive 2017 at the Community Archives and Heritage Awards (CAHG Awards) at University of Central London. The work we did was highlighted by the Chair of CAHG Sue Hampson in the December issue of the ARA (Archives Records Association) magazine. She wrote across three pages about the impact of the dedicated archive space in the most densely populated area for Punjabis in Wolverhampton! Thanks Sue! - Anand Chhabra
The fantastic senior archivist at Dudley Archives Richard Lewis taught some of our volunteers the value of archiving at the end of November. Richard showed us how documents, photographs should be handled and ephemera looked after and kept, what temperature they should be kept at and how to display our items and keep them from damage. These along with the many legalities around copyright and community archives were a few of the wonderful ways in which we learned so much from this experienced professional. Everyone left enthused about archiving and keeping a record of history! It was a great day at our dedicated archive space at the Guru Tegh Bahdur Gurdwara. We are very fortunate to have this space archive space in the most densely populated area for Punjabis in the City of Wolverhampton. Thank you Richard Lewis! - Anand Chhabra
The photograph pictured here is our 2000th image and represents us achieving our target for the Apna Heritage Archive. We are still continuing to collect images. This has been a real effort nothing short of blood sweat and tears, it's not been easy at making sure that we met this target especially thinking 6 months ago we reached our 1000th archived image. Special thanks to all families and individuals who have seen the value allowing us to scan their personal photographs and keep their history documented for future generations....hats off to them! Special thanks to all individuals who contributed in the last 2 years. Couldn't have done this without a real community effort. For us its been a privilege making new friends along the way! - Anand Chhabra
Regardless of what you may think this is not a scene from this years Emmy award winning series 'The Handmaids Tale', no its from the other award winning series... that would be the Apna Heritage Archive! These ladies are actually dressed like this representing National Trust and in particular Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton (a lot of drama went on their with King Charles II hiding from Cromwell back in the day!) They were very enthusiastic about the images and articles on our stall along with other members of the public and we had a long day talking to a number of peeps about what we have done/doing with our archive collection. Special thanks to Wolverhampton City Archives for inviting us to be present again this year! - Anand Chhabra
October was quite a busy month for BCVA! We were invited to the Royal Collections Trust at Windsor Castle in October by the Photo Collections Network. It was an amazing treasure trove of photographs held by the Trust as anyone can imagine. There were not only photographs from the royal family of 100+years ago but also collections from the founders of photography as well as world famous photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Cecil Beaton and Mario Testino to name a few! This is where the real crown jewels are kept! Hope to see our collection there one day you never know. Unfortunately but understandably the only image we were allowed to take was this one taken from my phone!
We will be sorry to see the end of our workshops at St Luke's school here in Wolverhampton as part of the Apna Heritage Archive. The photos here document our work with the school in our final series of workshops just in the last two weeks. We have been doing about 5 sessions of workshops with at least 3 year groups over 2 years. It was important to have an educational element to our archive and grateful to St Luke's primary school for their partnership as up to 50% of pupils have Punjabi heritage. The pupils have been empowered by the importance of archiving a collection for future generations and learnt photographic skills. They have also uncovered their own archive kept hidden away at the school for more than a 100 years and thanks to HLF funding will receive display cabinets to put the found photographs, albums and ephemera. Special thanks to all pupils and staff at St Luke's Primary school extremely well done! Thanks also to our brilliant host Jon Everall at City Archives for hosting the tours around Molineux House and their strong rooms at City Archives. Not only that but allowing us to conduct our photographic workshops there. Its been a rewarding partnership for all!
It was great evening at PhotoCafe in Birmingham on 27th September. It was a very interactive presentation with many good questions being asked about the archive and also with 2 new volunteers being signed up! We are grateful for PhotoCafe and Nicola Shipley from GRAIN for the invitation and 1000 Trades pub for hosting this event. For more information at where we will be speaking please do follow our @apna_heritage handle via twitter.