Lyrics - In these drowning times

Lyrics - Ei Dubonto Shomoy

Lyrics - এই ডু বন্ত সময়

Written, composed, translated and performed by Moushumi Bhowmik, 2019

‘Family Flight Paths’, Sketch, 2001

Forty Ships, Watercolour and Ink on Paper, 2007

Many years later, a good friend found this photograph in a vintage auction in Plymouth. On the surface of this image of a calm riverside scene with a glimpse of ruined but classical Indian architecture and a Banyan tree, I made out the faint trace of etched script “The scene of the final massacre, ‘Cawnpore’”. It was, I realised, the one and same place. My possible ancestral home (on at least one side of my family) and a former British military station. I wondered how this apparently idyllic image of what was, in fact, a record of colonial India’s traumatic history (conflict and a massacre), ended up in Plymouth. The links between my family history and this location, connected by wider narratives of empire, seemed to be revealing little fragments of themselves to me as I began work on ‘Paradise Lost’.

– Mohini Chandra

‘Sinking Ship’, wreck of the Queen Margaret, a four-masted steel barque built in 1893 and wrecked in 1913 on Stag Rocks, Lizard Point, Cornwall. Photo by Dr David Gibbins.

‘Crushed Jug’, copper-alloy jug recovered from the Royal Charter, 1859. From the Shipwreck and Treasure Museum Collection.

Copper-alloy teapot recovered from the Royal Merchant, 1859. From The Shipwreck and Treasure Museum collection.

Pewter plate recovered from the ‘Mullion Pin Wreck’, 1667. Wrecked off the coast of Cornwall, UK and recovered by David McBride. From the Shipwreck and Treasure Museum Collection.

Copper-alloy ‘Negro’ figurine. Copy of a figurine recovered from the ‘Mullion Pin Wreck’, 1667 off the coast of Cornwall by David McBride. From the Shipwreck and Treasure Museum Collection.

‘Indian Figure’, copper-alloy (brass) figure recovered from SS Medina, 1917. From the Shipwreck and Treasure Museum collection.

Copper-alloy (brass) Indian carriage figurine. Recovered from SS Medina, 1917. From The Shipwreck and Treasure Museum Collection.

‘Manilla’, copper manilla slave token recovered from Plymouth Sound, 168Os. From The SHIPS Project Collection.

Pewter Tankard recovered from Plymouth Sound, early 1700s. From The SHIPS Project Collection.

Copper sheathing, Recovered from the wreck of HMS Amethyst in Plymouth Sound, 1811. From The SHIPS Project Collection.

Heavily degraded copper manilla recovered from the Douro, a wreck in the Scilly Isles, 1841. From The SHIPS Project Collection.

This project has been made possible by the support from:

The Arts Council England/National Lottery
MIRROR
Plymouth College of Art The SHIPS Project

About the artist

Mohini Chandra's work deals with articulations of identity and globalized spaces, and the role of the photographic in relation to memory and migration. As a child Chandra spent time in Fiji and travelled widely with her family within the Indian-Fijian diaspora. She has an interest in photographic histories and the processes of visual culture within colonial, anthropological and ethnographic discourses and the imagery of contemporary globalized cultures. Her work is held in international collections in the UK and USA including the UK's Arts Council Collection and included in major survey publications such as Phaidon's Art and Photography (ed. David Campany). The next chapter of Mohini Chandra’s extensive and ongoing project Paradise Lost, recently shown at MIRROR in Plymouth and is showing at the Chennai Photo Biennale 2021. Incorporating both still and moving image, this series of interrelated installations and publications explores significant global sites and locations of collective and personal memory, particularly around the experience of colonialism and its aftermath. Chandra began the project with Kikau Street which is based on the childhood home of her father in Fiji and Forty Ships in which she continued to trace earlier family migrations, working in Northern India and museum collections such as the Musee du quai Branly in Paris. In this most recent chapter of Paradise Lost, Chandra turns her attention to the narratives suggested by shipwrecks and the relationship of these stories to the global experience of indenture and slavery. Working in Plymouth has given Chandra the opportunity to explore the ‘heart of empire’ through the maritime history of the city and its surrounding waters. Paradise Lost (2020), is supported by the Arts Council England Lottery Fund and Plymouth College of Art and has been made in collaboration with the Plymouth based archaeological team Ships Project. www.mohinichandra.com

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