I’ve always been fascinated by ancient history, myths, legends & simplicity. I once read the entire Ancient History & Mythology section in my local library. Whilst re-connecting with my Indian roots a connection that i’d lost in the 1800’s I’ve since been fascinated by Ancient & Colonial India. I started collecting Photographs & Paintings several years ago, you can find my periodically updated pinterest board on the subject here https://www.pinterest.co.uk/xynnia/indian-vintage/.
Intrigued by the Greek Indian fusion stone sculptures at the turn of the first century, I wondered if any Pre-Raphaelite paintings depicted India in a kind of British-Indian fusion? I love the Pre-Raphaelite style because it conjures up images of Myths & Legends and hoped I could find paintings of India and it’s people the way British women were painted. I was quite saddened to find very few paintings as the sentiment at the time about Indian people was that they were ‘dogs’ Winston Churchill. If Indians were painted they were depicted in poverty and with British racial bias, elevating the white man in imagery over the brown man. Un-ideal to what I was looking for.
I was elated to come across Raja Ravi Varma’s work some of which were painted in the Pre-Raphelite style. One of India’s only colonial Painters in the Pre-Raphelite Style his work was enchanting.
He captured men, women and daily life in India through a raw, un-glamorous, unposed, candid & almost whimsical lens. I wanted to capture that feeling in a series of photographs. It is rare to find photographs of South Asian women without heavy makeup. However, I wanted to capture the authenticity of the way men & women dressed in Colonial India and I shot and styled a series of bare-faced South Asian men & women. I never finished the series but here are a few images from the street cast series.