Sunday, 8 July 2012

Brijesh Patel: McCluskieganj

Photo © Brijesh Patel-All Rights Reserved
Not too dissimilar from my previous post, here is another photo essay about disintegrating mansions and dwellings.

McCluskieganj was founded by the Colonisation Society of India in 1933 as a homeland for Anglo-Indians. In 1932 Ernest Timothy McCluskie, the founder of the town, invited some 200,000 Anglo-Indians in India to settle there. Of the nearly 250 original families, only 20 remain, as most of the Anglo-Indian community left after World War II, and the once spatial mansions are overgrown with jungle growth, and it's difficult to imagine that McCluskieganj was a paradise for mixed-race children of the British empire.

Brijesh Patel was born in Gujarat, and moved to the UK during his childhood. He enrolled at LCC for a Masters in photography, and awards from The Guardian, and the Winston Churchill Foundation supported his work in the UK and in India.

His McCluskieganj photo essay is one amongst many of his books that are hand made.

There are an estimated 80,000-125,000 Anglo-Indians living in India, most of whom are based in the large cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Mumbai and Tiruchirapalli. Some also live in Kochi, Goa, Pune, Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam, Lucknow, Agra, and in some towns of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Researching the subject, I chanced on this recent article in The Economist about Rita McDonald, an elderly Anglo-Indian who "...eats bacon and eggs for breakfast, speaks precise English and, though she has lived all her life in India, knows little Hindi or Bengali. Yet her home, hung with yellowing photographs of Queen Elizabeth and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is thick with tales of poverty and loss."

Perhaps one of my photographer friends in Kolkata would be interested in taking this up? Imagine it as an audio slideshow!