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Arts organisations in the North of England and South Asia announce major contemporary art network – New North and South

Eleven arts organisations in the North of England and South Asia announce major contemporary art network – New North and South

  • A three year programme of artistic commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange will celebrate the shared heritage of South Asia and the North of England
  • 2017 programme highlights include solo exhibitions by Waqas Khan, Hetain Patel, Nehav Choksi and Risham Syed at Manchester Art Gallery, Raqs Media Collective and Raqib Shaw at the Whitworth and Dhaka Art Summit, Reena Saini Kallat at Manchester Museum and a new performance by Nikhil Chopra at the Museum of Science and Industry

A new network of eleven arts organisations from across the North of England and South Asia, today announced a three year programme of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange to celebrate shared heritage across continents and develop artistic talent. The New North and South network, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence programme, will bring prominence to the work of leading Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and UK artists and include new artistic commissions, exhibitions and performances in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool and in Colombo, Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi and Kochi.

This new network consists of Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth, Manchester Museum, Liverpool Biennial, The Tetley in Leeds and Colombo Biennale (Sri Lanka), Dhaka Art Summit (Bangladesh), Karachi and Lahore Biennales (Pakistan), Kochi-Muziris Biennale (India) and the British Council. The New North and South aims to connect with diverse audiences on both continents through a programm of exhibitions and events that showcase the best of contemporary art from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK and also explore unequal and contested histories of empire and the industrial revolution.

Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial, said: ‘Liverpool Biennial is delighted to be part of the New North and South initiative ahead of our 10th edition in 2018. In the current political climate it is critically important that we build strong partnerships in the UK and internationally. We are looking forward to many artist commissions and knowledge-exchange with our colleagues. Through this programme, we will build lasting relationships, develop expertise, and celebrate excellence in the arts nationally and internationally.’

new north and south
The Gandi Engine Commission Tentative Collective, 2015 Courtesy of the artist.

Bryony Bond, Creative Director, The Tetley said: ‘The Tetley supports the development of emerging artists and brings new audiences to contemporary art. Through this exciting partnership we look forward to developing new networks between artists based in the UK and those based in South Asia, and working in partnership to bring exciting emerging talent from South Asia to the UK.’

Bose Krishnamachari, Co-founder of Kochi-Muziris Biennale said: ‘The Kochi Biennale Foundation is proud to work with a range of partners in South Asia and in the UK on this long term initiative to share knowledge and creativity across the world. We thank the Arts Council of England for their support and look forward to a productive and shared future.’

Diana Campbell Betancourt, Director of Dhaka Art Summit said: ‘The Dhaka Art Summit exists as a needed non-commercial research and exhibitions platform to consider art and culture in South Asia beyond India and Pakistan, exploring this region as a long standing zone of global contact where ideas are born. We are thrilled to support the New North New South network and we look forward to developing sensitive and meaningful projects together that benefit these important art scenes.’

Dr Nick Merriman, Director of Manchester Museum said: ‘New North and South offers a platform for world class contemporary artists from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to be shown in the UK and gives us the opportunity to connect better to the diverse communities of the North. Manchester, Liverpool Biennial and the Tetley look forward to collaborating with our partners in Colombo, Dhaka, Karachi, Kochi and Lahore to open the exchange of ideas and develop long-lasting connections for all involved.’

Rashid Rana, Artistic Director Lahore Biennale said: ‘Lahore Biennale 01 identifies collaboration and engagement as a key component of its creative process and therefore a partnership with New North and South opens up exciting avenues. South Asia has a complicated present in terms of hard political boundaries within the region and has a complicated past with the UK. The New North and South partnership initiates and strengthens a nexus within South Asia and the UK in a unique way. This initiative celebrates the individual artistic and intellectual expressions of the region, while recognizing our collective histories.’

new north and south
In Leaf (Primary Time) Neha Choksi 2015, live performance. Created for Hayward Gallery. Courtesy of the artist and Project 88, Mumbai

The first twelve months of the New North and South will commence in Manchester with a retrospective of photographs by Sooni Taraporevala at the Whitworth (opening 4 March 2017) showcasing 40 years of images of Mumbai/Bombay. The Whitworth will also showcase its rich South Asian textile collection alongside the work of contemporary artists Raisa Kabir, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Risham Syed and Indian collective CONA (opening 18 May 2017). Manchester Art Gallery’s design gallery will present its south Asian decorative art alongside work by contemporary makers Adeela Suleman, Halima Cassell, Manish Arora and Cobalt Designs (opening 18 May 2017).

Contemporary artist Raqib Shaw will have a solo exhibition at the Whitworth that will examine real and imagined spaces between the East and West (opening 15 June 2017). Co-curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Director of Dhaka Art Summit, Dr. Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery and the artist, Shaw’s paintings will be combined with historic textiles, furniture and drawings from the Whitworth collection referencing Kashmir and the aesthetic of the East, echoing the opulent imagery and mythic space Shaw inhabits and creates in his paintings. The installation will then be reimagined for the South Asian context of the Dhaka Art Summit 2018.

Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry will welcome performance artist Nikhil Chopra. Chopra will create a one-off performance based around a steam locomotive held in the Museum’s permanent collection. The steam engine was built in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, but served on the Indian Railways and was then transferred to Pakistan after Partition in 1947. This single object and the original Liverpool Road station, the terminus the world’s first commercial railway line from Liverpool to Manchester, will become the symbolic centre of Chopra’s performance (29 September – 1 October 2017).

The Tetley in Leeds will host a week-long workshop facilitated and led by established performance artists Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore and Jana Prepeluh, also known as ‘Bodyworkshop’. This workshop travels to Leeds from the 2016 Dhaka Art Summit. At The Tetley twelve artists, selected by the eleven network partners and drawn from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the UK, will incubate new ideas culminating in a weekend of performances and talks (5-6 August 2017).

From 30 September 2017, the New North and South network will host a Manchester-wide programme, of which highlights include:

  • Solo exhibitions of new work by leading Pakistani artists Mehreen Murtaza, Waqas Khan, Risham Syed and Tentative Collective, Indian artist Neha Choksi and UK artist Hetain Patel at Manchester Art Gallery.
  • The work of four pioneering Pakistani and Indian modernists, Sadanand Bakre, Avinash Chandra, Anwar Jalal Shemza and F.N. Souza, at the Whitworth.
  • A major exhibition and intervention by Reena Saini Kallat across Manchester Museum. The multimedia exhibition will see Kallat create new audio installations and a large outdoor sculpture inspired by the Museum’s natural science and human cultures collections. Works including Colour Curtain (2009), a barricade made from rubberstamps with the names of individuals who have been denied visas and Light Leaks (2008-2010), a sculpture modelled on the gates at theWagah Attari border between India and Pakistan will also be displayed.
  • The first major UK exhibition by Raqs Media Collective at the Whitworth and throughout the Whitworth Park, exploring the history of Suffrage and the birth of the labour movement. The exhibition will include new commissions inspired by Manchester’s industrial heritage.

Complementing the New North and South programme will be performances, film screenings, music events and social history exhibitions that will take place across Manchester including: Memories of Partition, coordinated by Manchester Museum, The Royal Exchange Theatre, the Race Relations Archive and the Manchester BME Network, which will collect oral history interviews from people affected by the Partition of 1947. Contemporary South Asian music with Manchester’s Band On The Wall and a Partition film season at HOME will also take place.

In parallel to the public programme the New North and South network will facilitate a series of residencies hosted by Liverpool Biennial. The residencies will enable mid-career artists from South Asia to work alongside, or be supported by, artists and curators with international reputations. The residencies will culminate in a series of co-commissions with the Lahore and Karachi Biennales in 2017. Liverpool Biennial will also develop mentoring and commissioning opportunities for emerging Bangladeshi artists selected for the Samdani Award with Dhaka Art Summit in 2018.

Further announcements around New North and South projects will follow in the spring and autumn of 2017, including projects at the 2017 Karachi Biennale and the Dhaka Art Summit and Lahore Biennale in 2018.

Find out more at and follow the conversation with #newnorthsouth.