The Shining Lights of Service multimedia exhibition at the Royal Pavilion
Leading artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE to create The Shining Lights of Service, a unique, multi-coloured light installation to commemorate the WW1 Indian Hospital.
Saturday 11 November 2023 – Sunday 28 January 2024
Adelaide Balcony, Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Chila Kumari Singh Burman will unveil a light installation inspired by the heritage of India to be displayed on the Adelaide balcony of the Royal Pavilion on Remembrance Day.
Part of the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, Imperial War Museums’ national arts commissioning programme, Burman was selected to work with Brighton & Hove Museums on the commission for the exterior of the Royal Pavilion. The artwork remembers the soldiers cared for in the Royal Pavilion between 1914 and 1916 when it was used as a hospital for Indian soldiers wounded in the First World War. Burman visited the Pavilion in 2022 to view the opulent and dramatic interior of the Royal Pavilion for inspiration. She worked with Royal Pavilion staff and historian Kiran Sahota of Believe in Me CIC who specialises in the history of South Asia. A set of new neon works have been created in Burman’s London studio and will be displayed alongside earlier neons, on loan to the Royal Pavilion.
To align with Remembrance Sunday and Diwali, the commission will open on 11 November.
Chila Kumari Singh Burman said: “I like to think the light is healing to people. Neons, to me, bring joy to people: they emanate fantastical colours. I started making neons during the pandemic, for the Tate Winter Commission 2020. They’re like a beacon of hope and courage.
“There are some new neons on the Pavilion balcony: the phoenix and the tools are new, and I’ve reinvigorated this dragon, who is fierce, a protector. I met the phoenix on the carpet in the palace: I thought it was a peacock, a symbol of India. The Indian Ayurvedic tools are also symbols of healing. These medical instruments are elegant: not grim and hard and harsh, or something painful, but alive, like birds.
“I’m quite moved by the whole fact that the Punjabi soldiers were there. This suite of subversive neons is an homage to them.”
CEO of Brighton & Hove Museums, Hedley Swain said: “We are thrilled to have worked with Chila and Imperial War Museums to commission Chila’s spectacular art installation for the façade of the Royal Pavilion, highlighting its role as a hospital for Indian soldiers during the First World War.
“Chila’s neon sculptures draw on the Asian imagery of the Pavilion interiors combined with Indian medical instruments as a sobering reminder of the huge number of Indian soldiers who fought alongside the British army in the First World War. We are grateful to Chila for creating such a dramatic and thought-provoking installation, highlighting such a significant part of the Pavilion’s history.”
Head of Art at Imperial War Museums, Rebecca Newell said: ““Working with artists has been an integral part of Imperial War Museums since the First World War. Part of the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, The Shining Lights of Service continues this important tradition, telling nuanced stories of conflict through new and thought-provoking ways.”
The Shining Lights of Service : https://www.brightonmuseums.org.uk
Saturday 11 November 2023 – Sunday 28 January 2024
PROJECT LEGACY FILM
We are creating a new 10-12 minute film to explore the inspiration behind Chila’s art installation and the context of the work within the stories of the Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton. Written and presented by social historian, Dr Kiran Sahota, and filmed by Leah Rustomjee, the short film will help bring this extraordinary part of history to life. To be shared from 10 December on Brighton & Hove Museums website, Believe in Me CIC website and associated partner websites.
Dr Kiran Sahota said: “For me, it is so important to tell the story of injured Indian soldiers hospitalised at the Royal Pavilion as it opens up a history that we are not taught in schools. I love telling the stories of Indian soldiers and the First World War and collaborating on this new short film helps to continue to raise awareness of an important, and not well-known history.”
Family Day Take Part event
Saturday 11 November
Brighton Museum and Brighton Dome
11am–5pm, Free, drop in. All ages.
African Night Fever and Brighton & Hove Black History bring you a day celebrating multi-cultural arts and heritage. Come and join in creative workshops, eat delicious food, and find out more about the diverse history and culture of our city, including the stories behind the new neon light artwork on the exterior of the Royal Pavilion by Chila Kumari Singh Burman.
In collaboration with Believe in Me CIC and Writing Our Legacy.
Part of an IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund commission in partnership with Brighton & Hove Museums.
12 – 1pm, MuseumLab, Brighton Museum
The Shining Lights of Service
Artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE in conversation with Simone Lacorbiniere, Brighton & Hove Museums Head of Culture Change
Discover the stories behind The Shining Lights of Service, the new neon installation on the balcony of the Royal Pavilion. Exploring its role as a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers during the First World War, Chila’s colourful neon sculptures also draw on the spectacle of the Pavilion interiors, where Asian symbols and motifs intermingle with signs of British imperialism. Chila’s work often explores the cultural syntheses she experienced growing up in Britain. Hear about the influences on Chila’s artistic journey and her inspiration and the challenges of creating this new work.
Free but please book to reserve a ticket: https://tinyurl.com/3wz3285w
2.45 – 3.45pm, MuseumLab, Brighton Museum
Brighton, India and the First World War
Dr Kiran Sahota, from Believe in Me CIC in conversation with Simone Lacorbiniere, Brighton & Hove Museums Head of Culture Change
Dr Sahota discovered the story of Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during her own family research. Hear about her journey of exploration and the stories she delved into, such as Subadar Mir Dast, who received his Victoria Cross medal at the Royal Pavilion, and shared experiences of Indian soldiers from different faiths and backgrounds. Find out about how this can empower others to learn about their own history and inspire discussions around identity, community and remembrance.
An IWM 14018 NOW Legacy Fund commission in partnership with Brighton & Hove Museums and in collaboration with Believe in Me CIC
Free but please book to reserve a ticket https: https://www.tinyurl.com/yt688477
About Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE
Chila Kumari Singh Burman MBE is celebrated for her radical feminist practice which examines representation, gender and cultural identity. She works across a wide range of mediums including printmaking, drawing, painting, installation and film.
Born in Liverpool to Punjabi-Hindu parents, she attended Southport College of Art, Leeds Polytechnic and the Slade School of Fine Art. A key figure in the British Black Arts movement in the 1980s, Burman has since remained rooted in her understanding of the diverse nature of culture and her work often explores the cultural syntheses she experienced growing up in Britain. Bollywood bling and Pop art are combined in work that refuses to be constrained within a single approach or interpretation. In 2020 Chila created a technicolour installation, Remembering a Brave New World, as the Winter Commission for Tate Britain’s façade.
Chila’s vibrant installation at the Royal Pavilion celebrates Indian myths and customs, conflict and cultural fusion against the Indian-inspired silhouette of the Royal Pavilion.
About IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund
The IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund is a national partnership programme of over 20 artist commissions inspired by the heritage of conflict. Led by Imperial War Museums, the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund was created following the success of 14-18 NOW, the official UK arts programme for the First World War centenary.
To mark the end of the First World War centenary, Imperial War Museums and 14-18 NOW worked together to co-commission the critically acclaimed film They Shall Not Grow Old by Academy Award winner Peter Jackson, which was seen by nearly 5 million people globally. Following the unprecedented success of the film, 14-18 NOW and IWM agreed that a share of the film’s royalties would be used to support a new programme of artist commissions, the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund. A total of £2.5 million is being made available to artists and cultural organisations across the UK.
Through the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, IWM is now working in partnership with cultural organisations from across the UK to commission over 20 ambitious new artworks inspired by the heritage of conflict and created by world-leading and emerging contemporary artists. These new commissions will forge new opportunities for artistic engagement, bring art to audiences in new and relevant ways by connecting people, places and experiences, and kick-start cultural dialogue as we recover from the wide-reaching impacts of COVID-19.
About Believe in Me CIC
Believe in Me CIC creates projects to engage young people about South Asian history specialising in Indian Military history in particular. Believe in Me CIC is about youth engagement through education and raising awareness of South Asian histories not taught in mainstream education.