British Museum and HSBC announce Indian Summer

A season of programming exploring Indian culture

May – October 2009

The British Museum and HSBC today announce plans for Indian Summer, a season dedicated to Indian culture featuring a unique programme of exhibitions, installations, performances, lectures and film screenings. HSBC is the sponsor of the season that includes: Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur, an exhibition which provides a rare opportunity to view paintings of outstanding interest and variety that have never previously been seen in Europe: an India Landscape, a specially commissioned space presenting Indian biodiversity in the Museum’s forecourt in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: and a rich and varied public programme.

Launching the season British Museum Director, Neil MacGregor commented: “There is an enduring fascination with the rich diversity of the art and culture of India. Garden and Cosmos epitomises this diversity through the polarities expressed in the paintings, focusing on both the external courtly life of pleasure on the one hand and an internal life of devotion and speculation on the other. I am most grateful to HSBC for enabling us to present Indian Summer”.

Stephen Green, Group Chairman HSBC Holdings plc, said: “HSBC is the world’s local bank and the British Museum is recognised worldwide. We are both committed to the idea of Cultural Exchange - understanding life in different cultures and building international relationships. India is a major player in the world market and its cultural contribution here in the UK and around the world continues to grow. The Indian Summer season will provide a deep insight into the life, history and culture of this fascinating country.”

Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur

28 May – 23 August 2009  /  Room 35  /  Admission charge

Garden and Cosmos will focus on the distinctive style of court painting which flourished in Jodhpur, in Rajasthan, during the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. The exhibition will feature a loan of fifty-five works from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust in Jodhpur which has been set up by the present Maharaja, H.H. Gaj Singh II. These paintings have never been seen in Europe before and are of exceptional quality. The two elements of the title, ‘Garden’ and ‘Cosmos’ represent two distinct styles and functions over the period represented in the exhibition.  ‘Garden’ presents paintings of palace life, many of them centred on the pleasures of the royal court and including vibrant illustrations of the great Indian epics, especially of the Ramayana. In ‘Cosmos’, we see paintings from the long reign of Man Singh (r.1803-43) which are remarkable as, in their subject matter, they turn away from the glowing exterior world of court life and instead address the interior world of philosophical speculation and the origin of the universe. The precise meaning of some of these paintings is unclear but the large fields of distinctive, brilliantly coloured wave patterns reminds the viewer that surrender to blocks of pulsating colour is not a 20th century European invention. Alongside this major loan from Jodhpur are two important paintings loaned from the National Museum in Delhi and two paintings from the British Museum’s own collection.
Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur is organised by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with the Mehrangargh Museum Trust.

India Landscape

2 May – 28 September 2009  /  British Museum Forecourt  /  Admission free

To complement the exhibition, the British Museum, is collaborating with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to create an Indian-themed landscape on the Museum’s west lawn. The landscape will present a section through the immensely diverse habitats of the Indian subcontinent, taking visitors on a journey from the mountainous environment of the Himalayas, through a temperate region and ending in a sub-tropical zone centred on a pool filled with lotus flowers. The landscape will highlight the significance of plant use in Indian culture – as food, medicine and in trade and the way plants such as chilli (native to South America) have travelled and become completely indigenised.  Finally, the dramatic consequences of habitat destruction in the subcontinent will also be addressed. The landscape is the second in a series of five planned collaborations with Kew.

Public Programme

Various locations

A rich and varied programme of events and activities, featuring public debates, lectures and talks by prominent Indian academics and artists, screenings of award-winning films as well as a wide range of family and educational activities will complement the exhibition. A special evening ‘Late’ event will focus on India, and visitors will be able to enjoy music and dance performances, food and drink tastings as well as interactive workshops.

For further information, please contact:

British Museum Hannah Boulton: hboulton@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk + 44 (0)7748 162 657
HSBC Rachel Clarke: rachel.clarke@fourcommnications.com +44 (0)7841 072 112

Notes to Editors:

About HSBC’s Cultural Exchange Programme

As the world’s local bank HSBC aims to encourage and promote the understanding of different cultures across the world through its Cultural Exchange programme. As an international financial services provider, HSBC has to operate across different cultures and knows first hand how important it is to appreciate and understand the different points of views and values of both its employees and clients, in order to build successful working relationships. HSBC therefore believes that Cultural Exchange can generate important business benefits. HSBC embraces Cultural Exchange in its widest sense; from fine art to cuisine, from language and literature to dance, street arts and all forms of music. www.hsbc.com/culturalexchange

About HSBC Group

HSBC Holdings plc is headquartered in the UK. The HSBC Group serves over 128 million customers worldwide from over 9,500 offices in 85 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations. HSBC is marketed worldwide as ‘the world's local bank'.

Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur is organised by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with the Mehrangargh Museum Trust. The exhibition will travel to four venues:

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: 11 October 2008 – 4 January 2009

Seattle Art Museum: 29 January – 26 April 2009

British Museum: 28 May – 23 August 2009

National Museum of India: November 2009