Celebrating and connecting artists in India and Wales
The growing and long standing cultural relationship between India and Wales has inspired many artistic expressions, some of which Wales Arts international and the Arts Council of Wales have been proud to originate and support in partnership with Welsh Government, British Council and many partners in the sector in both Wales and India and sponsored by Air India.
Our unique cultural relationship is deep rooted and dates back millennia, to Sanskrit – the origin of our language, Cymraeg, the Welsh Language. We are proud that the linguistic conversation continues today as our poets translate each other’s work from Bengali, Malayalam, Hindi and Urdu into English and Welsh and vice versa.
Wales is a bilingual nation, unique within the UK, which gives a different expression to our artists and how we project our culture internationally, yet one which is very relevant to the multi-lingual sub-continent of India. Our arts and culture are thriving through the medium of both languages and in all artforms in Wales and internationally.
Our leading project in India to date is Writers Chain, a project that, amongst other creative outputs, has developed a new model for poets to collaborate and translate each other’s work and, indeed, has become an USP for literature from Wales internationally.
A translation workshop organised by Wales Literature Exchange with Welsh and Bengali literary translators took place in Aberystwyth in September 2014 and in January 2015 new Bengali translations of Welsh literature will be published by Indian publishers, Sampark. This will add to the growing list of Welsh writers published in Malayalam, Manipuri, Tamil and Hindi and Indian writers in Welsh and English in Wales.
At the end of October, First Minister Carwyn Jones took part in the official opening ceremony of the Tata Mumbai Lit Fest, which coincided with the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas. Welsh poets Rhian Evans and Eurig Salisbury and Indian poets Sampurna Chattarji & Ranjit Hoskote performed at the prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai, and shared experiences of the ongoing Walking Cities project which takes the writers to different parts of the city. As they walk and talk, their ruminations, discussions and insights are digitally captured live for the British Council podcast. Cities are a vital theme in the work of Dylan Thomas, a poet who retained strong connections to Swansea and also embraced New York, where many other forms of celebrating the poets life took place as part of the British Council’s Starless and Bible Black international programme. The project also forms the basis for an ongoing exchange and translations of each other’s work as they work together in Wales in 2015.
Poetry and music share the same root in Welsh. "Cerdd" means both a poem and music. The Urdu tradition of Ghazal mirrors the Welsh tradition of singing poetry, as celebrated by Mumbai singer Tauseef Akhtar and Welsh singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn in their Ghazalaw collaboration that weaves the love poetry of their two ancient traditions together to the accompaniment of Welsh harp, Indian violin, tabla, guitar and harmonium. Following a main stage performance at the leading World Music expo WOMEX in Cardiff in 2013, they toured Wales.
Ghazalaw also performed at the Tata Mumbai Lit Fest. Listen out for the imminent announcement of their first album release expected in early 2015. Watch this brief video of the artists recording the album in 2013.
Musicians and companies from Wales are showcasing and participating in the UK Trade and Invesment Music Mission. Emerging act Houdini Dax, who have been part of the BBC/ Arts Council of Wales Gorwelion/ Horizons project will perform at NH7 festivals in India in November as part of the UK Music Export programme ran by PRS for Music and partnered by Wales Arts International.
WAI is proud to have supported many other artists to work in India and would encourage you to browse these pages of this booklet and our website to discover more.
Click for a pdf version of the booklet
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Wales Arts International provides information as well as funding for artists from all artforms to develop their work in India and Wales.