Drawing on the experiences of the British Indian Army 100 years ago, the Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi is due to unveil a painted Indian garden in a park in northern England this summer. Inspired by the British Indian army that fought in the First World War, Qureshi will paint the flora and fauna on the paving at Bradford's Mughal Water Gardens in Lister Park.
The garden is a place of peace, tranquillity and safety. But this garden within a garden does not provide refuge from conflict, or a haven from the outside world. Instead, inspired by the history of the million-strong British Indian army that fought in the First World War, Qureshi transforms a public space into zones in which light and dark mix, horror and hope collide.
Qureshi lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan, a region that as part of the British Raj enlisted a huge number of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu soldiers to fight on the Western Front. Their experiences of being at war in a distant land and in a hostile climate inform the work that this leading international artist will present at the Mughal Water Gardens in Lister Park, next to Cartwright Hall Art Gallery and in City Park, Bradford City Centre. There will also be a number of associated events.
Qureshi – who uses a delicate style inspired by the history of Pakistani and Indian miniature painting to reflect upon contemporary conflicts and divisions – illuminates the complex interplay between Islamic and European history and culture. These vibrant works remind us that war creates division, but can also bring people together.
Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Bradford Museums and Galleries, City of Bradford MD Council and Yorkshire Festival
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