Beyond the Frame celebrates cultural impact of Indians on Britain

Beyond the Frame: India in Britain, 1858-1950 celebrates the often overlooked, long history of the Indian presence in Britain. This ground-breaking exhibition, part of a larger project, Beyond the Frame: Indian British Connections, takes a new look at this little-known history and will tour India from 25th November starting at the British Council and 29th November at the National Archives of India in Delhi.

Hundreds of these fascinating lives are celebrated in the Beyond the Frame project including:

  • Dadabhai Naoroji- elected Liberal MP in North London in 1892 and the first Indian to be elected to parliament in Britain
  • Sophia Duleep Singh -Indian princess and Suffragette who marched alongside Emmeline Pankhurst to parliament in 1910, and was a major campaigner for women's rights
  • Mulk Raj Anand – renowned novelist, was Indian programmes writer for the Indian section of the BBC’s Eastern Service in the 1940s, where he worked closely with George Orwell.
  • Abdul Karim - servant and teacher of Hindustani to Queen Victoria. Victoria was said to be closer to Karim than she had been to John Brown.
  • Gandhi - his trip to Britain in 1931 captured the public imagination and he was mobbed by enthusiastic crowds, particularly in the East End of London and by mill workers in Lancashire. He also met with actor Charlie Chaplin.

A multimedia timeline and Asians in Britain website has been created in partnership with the British Library to bring these stories alive for a much wider audience - http://www.bl.uk/asiansinbritain

Based on extensive archival research deriving from the 3-year project Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950 (funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council between 2007-10), this exciting follow-on is led by the Open University and directed by Professor Susheila Nasta in collaboration with Penny Brook of the British Library. The current exhibition and activities continue to be supported by the AHRC, The Open University and the British Library with new partners, the British Council India, the World Collections Programme and the National Archives of India.

As part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme there will be a range of educational activities running alongside the exhibition. A teachers’ pack will accompany the Indian run of the exhibition with free worksheets for school children.

The National Archives of India are also hosting the exhibition and displaying alongside complementary materials from their own collection.

Profiling the influential contributions the early South Asian community made to Britain, the exhibition, accompanying website and educational programme will provide a history of Indian-British connections during this period and engage new audiences with a fresh perspective on the impacts on both nations of their shared heritage.

Spanning almost ten decades from the period of the Raj to the better-known era of migration post-World War II, the exhibition and related website will focus on Asian-British engagement on British soil during this time in a range of areas including cultural and intellectual life, resistance and activism, national and global politics, the arts and sport.

The exhibition looks at the impacts of individuals, communities and political movements on British life and their wider relevance in India.It uses reproductions of contemporary accounts, posters, pamphlets, diaries, newspapers, political reports and illustrations, to build up a clear picture of the diverse and rich contributions Indians have made to British life.

Following the launch in Delhi, Beyond the Frame: India in Britain will tour northern India at British Council libraries in Kolkata and Ahmedabad. In February 2012 the exhibition will tour Southern India with scheduled visits to British Council libraries in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai. During 2011-12, the National Archives will also feature the exhibition at regional archives.

Project Director, Professor Susheila Nasta MBE comments;

In taking the exhibition to India we want to swivel the perspective to examine India’s role within Britain (rather than Britain’s well documented imperial influence in India). The exhibition will trace Indian-British interactions across the race, class, gender divide and draw public attention to the complex realities of both countries’ intertwined histories. The accompanying activity for schools, the timeline, microsite and online database extend the interest in this project to a very wide audience. We hope that this work will capture people’s interest and make them appreciate the huge impact that people from India have had on British life.”

For more information about the exhibition or any of the supporting projects go to www.open.ac.uk/Arts/south-asians-making-britain


Notes to Editors:

Professor SusheilaNasta, Principal Investigator of the project, Dr Florian Stadtler, Research Associate, Ms Penny Brook, Lead Curator India Office Records, British Library and Adam Pushkin, Head of Arts, British Council India will be in India for the exhibition tour and are available for interview though Laura Creyke at the Literary Platform on: + 44 (0)7951 777 407 / lauracreyke@hotmail.com.

There will be a launch event at the National Archives of India on Tuesday 29 November 2011 and it will remain open for public till 30 December 2011. This exhibition will also be sent to NAI record centres at Jaipur, Bhubaneswar and Pudducherry and to regional office, Bhopal. – for more information please contact Laura Creyke on the details above.

Copies of the exhibition catalogue and teachers worksheets are available on request.

The online database Making Britain: How South Asians shaped the nation is at http://www.open.ac.uk/makingbritain. This provides free information on over 450 South Asians in Britain from 1870 to 1950, the organisations they were involved in, their British connections and the major events in which they participated.

For more information please contact:

Laura Creyke
The Literary Platform
t:+ 44 (0)7951 777 407
e: lauracreyke@hotmail.com

The Open University (OU) is the largest higher education institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 20,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools. The OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 11 million unique visitors, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 31 million downloads. www.open.ac.uk

The National Archives of India is the custodian of non current records of the Government of India and it is one of the premiere archival institutions in Asia. Its holdings comprise over 38 lakh files, 68,000 volumes and one lakh cartograhic records. The regular series of records starts from 1748 and are supplemented by private papers of eminent personalities as well as a large collection of oriental records. National Archives of India is also conducting one year diploma course in Archives and Records Management and various short term courses in different fields of archival sciences.To facilitate the work of research, the National Archives of India has a well equipped Research Room and approximately 1000 Indian and 150 Foreign scholars use the reseach facilities annually. In order to promote archival awareness the National Archives of India organise themetic exhibitions in India and abroad. To contact National Archives of India please visit www.nationalarchives.nic.in

For more information contact:


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  

Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk



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