The AGM Annual Gathering Event
– Gandhi in Noakhali
21st May 2011 at Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, London
Film screening: rare footage of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Noakhali during the 1946 riots
Testimonials from Gandhi’s visit; Shaheen Westcombe MBE talks about her father’s archive
Poetry reading and speeches
Tour of Gandhi’s room at Kingsley Hall
Mid-season exhibition: resident artist Saif Osmani examines the spaces inhabited by Gandhi
The Spaces Inhabited by Gandhi
by Saif Osmani, Visual Artist and Spatial Designer
Kingsley Hall is the place Mahatma Gandhi chose to stay in during his visit to London in 1931 for the second Round Table conference.
I began researching the footprint of the Kingsley Hall building from the local archives at Bancrost Library. In media coverage of Gandhi’s visit of 1931, the newspapers attempted to present a romanticised and disaffected view of the East End. Photographs were taken over a broad skyline, away from the factories which lined the major roads and arteries of the locality.
The style of painting I have chosen borrows from far eastern practices, from Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese rural paintings on cloth. I initially started with broad, loose brush strokes, layering the details and features of the buildings in an attempt to re-create a sense of time and place, whilst playing with perspective. Each piece was further abstracted by imbuing meanings extracted from testimonies in Noakhali and London, such as in the piece ‘Top of Gandhi’s head’ and ‘Beyond Landscapes’. Through abstraction I am exploring Gandhi’s influence over physical occurrences as well as tracking his thought process and philosophy.
The iconography and aesthetic of Gandhi’s public image was difficult to steer away from. I find that traditional canvas often prompts the viewer to search for a reality, as if looking through a portal into an imaginary world. By painting on cloth I am attempting to break away from this and allow the viewer to search for his or her own meaning.
The focus on the spaces Gandhi occupied come from my own practice which often follows narratives in space, by recording the displacement of people and changes in spatial configurations, as a means of understanding socio-political aspects of human behaviour.
These paintings will form part of a larger exhibition, intended to be shown as part of September’s Open House weekend.
To view images from the AGM and Saif Osmani’s exhibition click here