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Title:        "Time Passages" Solo show of Pritam Bhatty

Dates:      14 March - 22 April 2013

Time Passages 2011-2013

Digital prints on canvas with embroidery, acrylic paint, image transfers.

This series of work is based on my great-grandfather’s diary dating back to 1897. It records their life in the then remote district of Pithoragarh in north India.

Over a hundred years old the pages are yellow and brittle, the photographs, torn and damaged are faded sepia. The diary is extremely rich visually by itself. I wanted to use this in my work but to use it and to play around with it as random found images was not possible.

The family connections were too strong. This posed both a problem and a challenge. It was easy to fall into a nostalgic trap and stay focused on the quaint and the charming.

I began to explore the idea of family and memory; of diaries and photo albums as receptacles of memories and family history. I realised it is close to impossible to share and experience the memories captured in them in the same way as the creator intended and therefore my looking at them was entirely subjective. My gaze was in a sense giving them a new life and significance. I was layering them with my own perception and memory of family history and events in time. The idea of layering of memory and time opened up interesting possibilities of how I could use the material in my work.

I photographed the diary and its contents and made digital collages. Images of my own watercolour paintings, and image transfers of family members, are ‘stitched’ together using embroidery to form a composite whole.

To me the idea of a needle piercing the surface and holding all the elements together is symbolic of keeping memories, emotional connections and the layering of time. Floral patterns recur often, as a child they are the most vivid recollection I have of clothes, upholstery and curtains in my grandfather’s house.

In the smaller works, ‘Bloodlines’ I zoomed in to photographs of children, these seem in contrast to the adults refreshingly candid and far more animated. It seemed appropriate to combine them with my water colour “Bones in the Mincer”.

Pritam Bhatty, March 2013

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