Untold Story Project Brings Kedleston Hall's Indian Past To Life

By David Prudames | 06 October 2004
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Shows a photograph of the exterior of the south entrance at Kedleston Hall. It is a grand neo-classical building with a sweeping staircase on either side of a central block which is supported by columns.

Kedleston Hall was built between 1759 and 1765 for the Curzon family, who have lived in the area since the 12th century. © NTPL/ Matthew Antrobus.

Kedleston Hall in Derby was once the home of a Viceroy of India and today this rich heritage has provided local groups with the inspiration to create Asian dance, poetry and art works.

The Untold Story is part of a national project that uses the arts to work with communities in revealing the hidden lives of their local National Trust property.

A partnership between the National Trust and Surtal Arts, the project celebrates cultural and ethnic diversity and its relevance to our heritage.

"The Untold Story project is key in taking forward the National Trust’s Learning Vision by showing how we can work with local communities to make our properties more accessible through better interpretation," said Alison Gimingham.

Shows a photograph of a group of Asian women looking around a museum display.

Looking around the Eastern Museum at Kedleston hall for inspiration. Photo: Sue Reddish.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, local students and women’s groups from Derby’s South Asian community have spent the last few months working with artists at Kedleston Hall to interpret the collection of the Eastern Museum.

"Thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we have been able to consult with the South Asian community of Derby and deepen our understanding of our cultural heritage," added Alison.

Kedleston Hall was built between 1759 and 1765 for the Curzon family, who had lived in the area since the 12th century.

The stunning neo-classical building was passed down through the family and it was under the stewardship of then Viceroy of India Lord Curzon that the Eastern Museum was set up.

Shows a photograph showing detail of an Indian throne.

Detail of an Indian throne, part of the collection at Kedleston Hall. © NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie.

Viceroy from 1899 - 1905, Lord Curzon amassed a vast collection of Asian artefacts and put them all in a museum alongside such pieces as the Peacock dress worn by Lady Curzon at the Delhi Durbar in 1903.

Young people from Merrill College, Derby and Indian dancer Anusha Subramanyam interpreted the collection through dance, while writer Debjani Chatterjee worked with women from the Shahua Bagat Centre in Derby, to develop works of creative writing.

Women from Derby’s Indian Community Centre were joined by the Derby Quilters Group and textile artist Ranbir Kaur to produce a textile hanging inspired by the collection.

While the dance will be performed on site, the textile work and creative writing will be exhibited at Kedleston Hall during 2005, as well as in the wider community during 2006.

Shows a photograph of a group of Asian women leaning on a stone balustrade in front of Kedleston Hall, the neo-classical frontage of which rises above and behind them.

The project is all about helping communities gain a sense of ownership of their local National Trust property. Photo: Sue Reddish.

It is hoped that the project, will help Kedleston Hall establish a sustainable relationship with Derby’s Asian community and foster a sense of ownership by local people.

"Through being involved in this project the Asian women have been able to re-discover many skills and use them in a culturally beneficial way," explained Janet Poole from the Textiles Group.

"We have all had the opportunity to learn something different and enjoyed working together."

Mayura – The Untold Story will be performed to an invited audience as part of the season of South Asian Arts in Derby on October 9.

The show will be followed at 19.30pm with an Indian Classical Music performance featuring the Sur-Nandan Ensemble. Tickets are £5 and are on sale now at Kedleston Hall.

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