Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past opened in November 2015 at the Tate Britain and ran until April 2016. It was arranged around six trans-historic themes namely, maps, trophies, heroics, power dressing, on-the-spot observation and the art that came out of the Empire. Much has been said about the irony of Tate Britain hosting this exhibition: the museum came about because of the largess of Henry Tate (deceased 1899) who bequeathed his art collection to the nation and who made his money from trading sugar, a commodity associated with the slave trade. Additionally, it is situated on the former location of the Millbank Prison, a site from which convicts were transported to penal colonies in Australia.
Promotional banner for the exhibition Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, courtesy Durriya Dohadwala
Six months after the exhibition closed at the Tate, a restructured version of it opened at National Gallery Singapore (NGS) with the title Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies. This large survey exhibition, with more than 200 artworks by British and international artists portrayed the Empire from the 16th to mid-20th century: a time span that encapsulates the rise and fall of the British Empire. The location of this exhibition was well-placed too - as the Gallery is housed in the two colonial era buildings of the former Supreme Court and City Hall.
Much of the criticism that the Tate exhibition received was centred around issues of exploitation, destruction, and change that colonial rule wreaked on its inhabitants. The exhibition mostly avoided confronting subjects such as slavery, loot (which makes up a large proportion of the Empire’s collection of art, and artefacts), and marginalisation of indigenous peoples, cultures, art, and tradition. Even if it did so, as Hew Locke’s artwork does, it was in a highly restrained or playful manner or through what-if scenarios like the contemporary works of Andrew Gilbert, Michael Cook and Wong Hoy Cheong. Allison Smith, the Tate curator explains in the exhibition catalogue that slavery was not represented as it was too brutal to illustrate.1 If “brutal” refers to the visual experience, then there are artworks in the Tate Britain collection that could have initiated conversations about the Empire’s role in promoting slavery in a non- brutal manner. Agostino Brunias’ Dancing Scene in the West Indies (c.1764-96) which depicts Caribbean women dancing on a slave plantation was included in the exhibition at Tate (but not at NGS) with its wall text only remarking on the idealised depiction of life on the plantations and that “The mix of ethnicities seems to set aside the racial hierarchies imposed by British rule”.2 There is no reference to the complications of such imagery, popular in the late 18th century, that seemed to deny or marginalise the brutalities or consequences of slavery. As Jessyca Hutchens noted in her review of the exhibition, there is a “lack of critical contextualisation in the exhibition”3 and that “Artist and Empire, creates only moderate and occasional discomfiture.”4 Similarly, Emelia Terracciano also comments that “the real tragedy of Artist and Empire is that it deliberately refrains from leaving viewers horrified.”5
Agostino Brunias, Dancing Scene in the West Indies, c. 1730–1796, Tate Collection
The initial publicity and posturing of NGS did not indicate that its iteration of the exhibition was going to be vastly different from Tate’s. The presence of Queen Victoria‘s statue (given by the Chinese community to show their gratitude to Her Majesty6) in the main Gallery foyer; the media invite which arrived via courier rolled like a scroll (a royal summon?) in Walter Crane’s Imperial Federation Map of 1886; the naming of the gallery’s annual fundraising event as the Empire Ball (before being renamed as the Singapore Gala after a furore in the social media and an open letter by Yee I Lann, a participating artist, to the curators7); and promotion banners announcing the exhibition as featuring “Sir Stamford Raffles, Sir Frank Swettenham, Queen Elizabeth II, Lim Yew Kuan and many more” (the inclusion of Lim Yew Kuan in that list is strange as he is the only artist in that list and whose only work in the exhibition is a self-portrait) all pointed to a celebratory exhibition theme. The emphasis appeared to be on the key figures of the British Empire rather than on its art even though Low Sze Wee, the senior curator at NGS, notes in the exhibition catalogue that “the Gallery is mindful that the exhibition is about art rather than history. It does not seek to cast moral judgment on the past, which is something that cannot be erased".8
However, NGS’s take on the exhibition differs from the Tate’s in several aspects. First, it is named [En]countering Colonial Legacies, making a wordplay on both encountering and countering. Second, it encompasses works not only from the British collections (as the Tate Britain exhibition did) but also draws on the collection of NGS as well as on loans from other local and regional museums and private collections to include artworks that actively engage with the exhibition’s narrative. Third, it initiates a ‘countering’ space within the first section of the exhibition titled Countering the Empire. Historical works which were produced by British artists or for British patrons are juxtaposed with artworks that provide another perspective to the Empire throughout this section of the exhibition and open the historical works to an alternate reading. These works, which include historical artworks from former colonies’ collections as well as contemporary works by artists from both Britain and the former colonies, take a critical stance to the legacies of colonisation and selected works are highlighted to the audience via a yellow outlined box. At the Tate, contemporary art that engaged with ideas of Empire and colonisation were placed in a separate section towards the end and titled Legacies of the Empire to “avoid the impression that contemporary artworks had been chosen to cast moral judgement on Empire…”.9 Fourth, while the Tate only engaged with modernist works from the colonies in the section titled "Out of Empire" and the artworks depicted how the indigenous art practices were synthesised with European traditions, NGS presents a comparative case study of modern art beginnings in five selected colonies (Singapore, Brunei, Malaya, India and Australia). In the section Encountering Artistic Legacies, one key art movement in each of these countries is highlighted with the focus being on pre-independence art. Lastly the NGS iteration is limited to paintings and installations (some books are included) while the Tate exhibition included items like artefacts, maps, and flags to display the wide variety of ethnographic, and anthropological material that the Empire collected. NGS’ explanation for the exclusion is that ethnographic and anthropological material is already in exhibits at the Asian Civilisation Museum (ACM) and National Museum of Singapore(NMS) and visitors can access them there. However, since not all the visitors to the exhibition would not have visited the other museums or have seen these artefacts, this is a limiting assumption. Additionally, portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Frank Swettenham from NMS’s collection, numerous paintings from ACM’s collection and books from the National Library Board’s collection have been included in the exhibition which makes this reasoning invalid. In an anomalous way, this decision seems to echo the Empire’s view that only paintings were considered high art and the rest was artefact and craft.
Countering the Empire
Looking at Raffles
Lee Wen, Untitled (Raffles), 2000, Artists Investigating Monuments series, image courtesy of Durriya Dohadwala
NGS counters the empire via a two-pronged thematic approach: Picturing Power and Producing Knowledge. The former is then sub-divided into four zones, namely: Looking at Raffles, Exploration and Expansion, Resistance and Conquest and Self and Other. The section on Raffles opens with a large portrait of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. It was painted by George Francis Joseph in 1817 in London, and shows him seated regally in a formal attire. Raffles posture and direct gaze at the viewer is a classic example of portrait paintings of the Empire’s key players during the colonial era. Countering this image is Singaporean artist Lee Wen’s installation, Untitled (Raffles)10 2000 which comprises of a large photograph of the actual installation and video of the accompanying performance. The installation, which is a performance relic, shows a large platform constructed in front of Raffles’s statue in Singapore upon which people can climb and engage with the figure face-to-face rather than from the usual site of looking up at him. The accompanying video is a documentation of the event and includes responses of the individuals who participated in this. This alternate way of viewing or counter view is what this section of the exhibition focuses on.
George Francis Joseph, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, 1817, Collection of National Portrait Gallery, London, image courtesy of Durriya Dohadwala
Present in the same exhibition space, are paintings of flora and fauna that appeared unique to the British and which Raffles commissioned for his book History of Java. A hand-coloured engraving of the Rafflesia arnoldii is also among them – the largest flower known to man, which was ‘discovered’ by Raffles, his friend Joseph Arnold (and thus named after them) and a local guide whose presence remains unrecognised in this discovery. Small wooden sculptures titled Native Male Figures are also part of this section, depicting local people in traditional wear and juxtaposed next to the larger than life image of Raffles, these diminutive, plain and nameless figurines are illustrative of how the Empire viewed its colonies and its inhabitants - as an inferior species to be examined, classified, and documented - which probably explains the use of generic terms like “native” “Indian” “Javanese” and “mussalman” to title them.
Exploration and Expansion
The idea of discovery continues in the next section on Exploration and Expansion and paintings such as The North-West Passage, 1874 by John Everett Millais illustrates the adversity faced by those who went out into the colonies. Here Australian artist Michael Cook’s Undiscovered, 2010 questions the notion of the discovery of a land that had been inhabited by Aborigines for centuries and Benjamin Duterrau’s Mr. Robinson’s First Interview with Timmy, 1940 opens the question of subversion and deception hidden behind what appears to be conciliation. Duterrau’s painting which is on loan from the National Gallery of Australia, depicts an alternate viewpoint to the colonial one - that of uncertainty of the intent of the British and concern for the indigenous people. The artist who was born and raised in Britain, migrated to Tasmania in 1932.
Benjamin Duterrau, Mr Robinson’s First Interview with Timmy, 1840, Oil on canvas, Collection of National Gallery of Australia, image courtesy of Durriya Dohadwala
As mentioned earlier, maps are not included in this exhibition and there is only Walter Crane’s lithograph titled Imperial Federation: Map of the World showing the Extent of the British Empire in 1886 that shows the spread of the British rule. The discussion of expansion however is not complete without a dialogue on the dissolution and end of the Empire – as new borders were drawn and people migrated while the Empire withdrew. If historical artworks that reflected this were unavailable to the curators, then a contemporary one would have been a valuable addition to present a counter perspective to the theme; not only to illustrate the geographical changes but also the geo-political and psychological effect that the displacement of people and the forming of new identities caused. As the exhibition, Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space11 demonstrates, issues of identity, memory, displacement and belonging remain in these regions more than half a century later and artists continue to engage with them in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Middle East and Sudan.
Resistance and Conquest
George William Joy, General Gordon’s Last Stand, 1893, oil on canvas, 236 x 175 cm, Collection of Leeds Museums and Galleries, Image courtesy of Durriya Dohadwala
There are also works that depict key historic moments like battles and the signing of treaties. While these include those that depict British defeat, painted from the Empire’s perspective, these paintings illustrate the courage and resilience of the British even in defeat. General Gordon’s Last Stand, 1893, by George William Joy depicts the heroic death scene of the General in Khartoum, Sudan while facing a nationalist rebellion. Standing in an unrealistically comfortable and commanding pose at the top of the stairs he looks down at the native nationalists who are clamouring up chaotically to kill him. The painting portrays General Gordon and therefore the Empire as the one in control. The date of the painting, eight years after the event, also highlights another important aspect of these historical paintings: while they depict actual events, they are a post-event representation of what the artist or his patron thought might have transpired at that time. A highlight in this section is Meetings of Generals Yamashita and Percival, 1942 by the Japanese artist Miyamoto Saburo. Shown outside of Japan for the first time, this painting represents the surrender of the British to the Japanese in Singapore in 1942 with the Japanese generals in a position of strength and the British weary and dejected as they sign the surrender documents. These counter works provide important alternate vantage points to view the exhibition. Drawing on the Empire’s practice of depicting conquered civilisations as exotic ethnographic material, Scottish artist Andrew Gilbert takes the British victory at the Battle of Ulundi in 1879 and poses the hypothetical question: what if the Zulu army had won the battle instead of the British? What would a display in an ethnography museum in the Zulu Kingdom have looked like? In his installation, British Infantry Advance on Jerusalem, 4th of July 1879, Gilbert dresses mannequins in British military uniforms, leather boots, feathers, animal skins and a variety of paraphernalia to create a parade of fetishized idols for the Zulus.
Andrew Gilbert, British Infantry Advance on Jerusalem, 4th of July, 1879, 2015, Image courtesy of Durriya Dohadwala
Self and Others
This section of the gallery consists of a medley of portraits of personalities associated with the Empire. Alongside, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Frank Swettenham, Colonel T. E. Lawrence and Somerset Maugham are various Indian princes, nawabs and maharajas as well as a portrait of Tan Jiak Kim (a prominent Chinese merchant in Malaya in the late 19th century).
Hew Locke, Edward Colston and Edmund Burke from Restoration, 2006, C-print on paper, with mixed media collage, Image courtesy of Durriya Dohadwala
Noteworthy in this section of the gallery are the two contemporary artworks from Hew Locke’s Restoration, 2006 series. The works are images of the statues of Edward Colston (d. 1721) and Edmund Burke (d.1797), both associated with the slave trade - but in contrasting ways - and both adorned with a variety of golden trinkets and cowrie beads. Colston, whose statue was erected in Bristol 123 years ago, and who has countless streets and buildings named after him, derived his wealth from the Empire’s slave trade. He is remembered as “one of the most virtuous and wise sons”12 of the city and the legacy of his charitable contributions overshadows the source of his wealth. Edmund Burke, on the other hand, whose statue also stands in Bristol (incidentally on Colston Avenue), campaigned for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the 18th century. Locke highlights the layers that history conceals: by covering the statues in gold jewellery (like the devotional objects fixed to the Madonna in Spain) and cowrie beads (which were used as currency during the slave trade) he masks the faces of the statues and fetishizes them with trinkets and nails. This is also the only work in the exhibition that gestures (albeit gently) toward the Empire’s history of slavery and the wealth derived directly and indirectly from it. Interesting also is the placement of these works: they are diagonally opposite the portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Swettenham and have their back to the rest of the dignitaries in the room.
The section consists of artworks that artists from the Empire and its colonies produced to aid her in the documentation and classification of the varied flora, fauna, landscapes and people of the colonies. While many indigenous products like spices, tea, and timber were valued for their rarity in Britain and their trade contributed to the wealth of the Empire, the indigenous people of the colonies were considered primitive and inferior. The differences in their physique and lifestyle was catalogued and categorised and became a justification for European supremacy. Yee I Lann’s work Study of Lamprey’s Malayan Man I and II, 2009 underscores this: Yee takes Lamprey’s ethnographic photograph of a naked Malayan man against a constructed grid (to enable measurement and comparison of the human form) and digitally reconstructs it to remove some of its vulnerability. But then realising her own colonising of the image, she creates another artwork with the Malayan Man’s image completely removed and an image of herself looking at the empty silhouette. The diptych not only interrogates Malaysia’s colonial past but also its post-colonial anxieties of race and identity.
Yee I-Lann, Study of Lamprey’s Malayan, Male I & II, 2009, digital print on paper, 60 x 42 cm, Image courtesy the artist and Silverlens
An incisive conversation could have been opened in this section by connecting the contemporary works of Locke and Yee (in the exhibition) alongside the aforementioned Agostino Brunias’ Dancing Scene in the West Indies. The oil painting portrays African and African-European (referred to as mulattos then) women dancing and merrymaking in a rural setting. The idealised scene is a classic example of the Empire’s narrative of an idyllic life on its slave plantations of sugar and coffee in the Caribbean and Africa. Well-dressed and well-groomed women are engaged in leisure activities reminiscent of European genre paintings of pastoral scenes of the countryside: these images served as important tools in the Empire’s marketing strategy of showing the benevolence of the colonial masters and the positive lifestyle of the slaves on the colonies plantations. However, as Mia L. Bagneris, points out in her doctoral thesis on Brunias’ work, the painting can be read as a subversive work that challenges the ethnographic hierarchies imposed by the British colonial rule. She proposed that: "Undercutting their ostensible raison d’être [as ethnographic records], Agostino Brunias’s paintings reject the notion of a carefully ordered grid of human types in favour of a multi-hued mélange of glorious humanity."13 Locke’s work with his reference to slavery and its implications and memory as well as Yee’s work, directly referencing the tension of the colonial gaze and the Empire’s need to catalogue indigenous people as ethnographic material would have provided an interesting entry point to counter Brunias’ painting and open the issue of slavery and racial hierarchies along with its history and memory.
Production and Consumption
This section looks at the Empire through a commercial lens with the artworks illustrating how the economic might of the Empire grew through trade and commerce. Art (in the form of paintings and lithographs) was used by the Empire’s marketing board to promote trade and industry exhibitions and events in Britain to promote the resources and products of the colonies to the British audience. Included, is a portion of the handloom that was brought to London from Malaya in 192414 and is described as the “the only craft object in this current exhibition and looks back on the role that ‘fine art‘ and ‘craft’ played in the portrayal of Malaya in 20th century Britain”.15
Besides the products of the colonies, craftsmen were also brought over for the Empire’s exhibitions. These men and women would live on the exhibition grounds for the duration of the event and demonstrate the production of their crafts to the British public. Erika Tan’s work, The Weavers' Lament takes inspiration from the story of one of these craftspeople. Halimah binti Abdullah was an expert weaver who was brought to London for the Malaya exhibit at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, but she fell ill with pneumonia and died there. The exhibition catalogue explains Tan’s multimedia installation as alluding to the “entangled trajectory of textile manufacture both in the weaving mills of northern England and ‘handicraft’ production in this region”.16 This nominal mention only hints at the dire consequences that many indigenous industries, not only in Southeast Asia but across many other colonies faced because of the Empire’s vast machinery of trade and commerce. As Khademul Islam notes about Dhaka’s famed muslin industry which was wiped out by the Empire: “aided by a raft of tariffs, duties and taxes, British cotton textiles flooded not only the European markets, but the Indian ones as well, bringing Bengal’s handloom cotton industry, and muslin, to its knees.”.17
Portion of hand loom exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition (Malaya Pavilion) Wembley, 1924, Collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Image courtesy Durriya Dohadwala
Encountering Artistic Legacies
The second section of the exhibition titled Encountering Artistic Legacies explores how artistic practices developed in India, Australia, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaya and Brunei during the British Empire. Within each country, one key art movement has been highlighted and Low explains that this is to allow for an “in-depth examination rather than a tokenistic representation of multiple movements from every country”.18 Artworks have also been limited to those from the pre-independence period since the post-independence artistic developments were more pluralistic and require different considerations to examine them.
The focus here is on artists who navigated both Western art techniques and indigenous art practices (either through subject matter, technique or form of expression): Jamini Roy and the Bengal folk art traditions; Chuah Thean Teng and batik; Cheong Soo Pieng and Chinese ink painting being some of them. The colonies’ artists encountered Western art education through educators in the local school system (e.g. Richard Walker and Peter Harris) or through specialised art schools set up by the Empire. Some like Jamini Roy and Samuel Fyzee-Rahamin then went on to explore indigenous traditions like Bengali folk art and miniature painting and combined the sensibilities of both into their work. This element of encounter between the coloniser and the colonised is well illustrated in the exhibition.
The Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma’s Woman Holding a Fan (c. 1895-1900) is included alongside Jamini Roy’s works. While this work serves as a good example of Varma’s technique and ability to combine the Eastern and Western styles it appears tokenistic in the exhibition. It fails to underscore how Varma’s series of Indian mythological paintings, though inspired by European history paintings, created a new genre of national art in India. His heightened treatment to the painting of jewels and brocades and ability to fashion stylised types of the ideal Indian beauty and link it to Indian mythology19 won him critical acclaim. Though outwardly mimetic, his tone was offset by visuals from his field studies, indigenous performing arts (classical dance and theatre), and literary sources.20 Varma also revolutionised art in the middle and lower class Indian households by making affordable oleographs of such religious and mythological paintings to the public. The Ravi Varma Fine Arts Lithographic Press that he set up in Bombay in 1894 allowed him to make art accessible to the common people and his humanistic depictions of Hindu deities and heroes from epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana often became objects of worship in Indian homes. Notwithstanding the limitations of acquiring historical artworks, an example of this genre of his work would have been more representative in locating the place of the artist in a west-east interaction and eventually in fashioning modern India’s national art.
Raja Ravi Verma, Woman Holding a Fan, c. 1895-1900, Oil on Canvas, Collection of Victoria & Albert Museum, Image courtesy Durriya Dohadwala
Also in this section, is the encounter between art patronage and artists in the colonies. Hussein Anas’ group of four portraits of the Samsui Woman, Chinese Lady, Sarawak Malay and Woman in Sarong were commissioned by the Royal Dutch Shell company to commemorate the Federation of Malaya’s formation in 1963. Like the works in the Producing Knowledge section, these portraits depict the diversity of the local identities but unlike the previous section, where the colonial gaze is apparent in the artworks, the portraits in this section of the exhibition bestow a sense of dignity and pride- both in the posturing of the subject as well as in the size and execution of the work.
What the exhibition does not discuss, is the encounter of the colonial art education system with indigenous art genres and practices of the colonies. In India, for example, four art schools were established in the administrative centres of Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Lahore.21 The main premise of the schools was that Indian art, whose manufacturing knowledge was taught in the artisanal workshops or karkhanas via an oral transmission method, was inferior and inadequate.22 The emphasis of the schools’ curriculum was on industry which can be noted from the location of these schools in the trade centres of the empire rather than its art centres. Based on the South Kensington School of Design (now the Royal College of Arts) model, these schools taught drawing through scientific and theoretical instruction with the intention of producing crafts that would be better suited to European markets and taste. Stanckiewiz argues that this art education contributed to cultural imperialism by teaching young people in European and North American colonies or from indigenous groups that their traditional arts were not as highly ranked in an aesthetic hierarchy as European art, nor was their artistic taste as finely cultivated as that of European experts.23
The trajectory of the genre of miniature painting is a good case study of this encounter between colonial art education and indigenous art practices. The art form was an important and highly specialised element of manuscripts during the Mughal empire in India (1526-1857) but it became classified as ornamental/decorative/industrial art by the British. Since it was taught through the master/apprentice and workshop pedagogy, it was relegated to a craft in the Empire’s art schools (It was taught at the Mayo School of Art, Lahore) with the purpose of producing copies of historical miniature works that could be part of the Empire’s international trade. Post-independence, in 1958, miniature painting was upgraded to a minor course at the National College of Arts, Lahore24 but even then, it’s teaching was largely limited to the copying of historical manuscripts.
Despite the exhibition’s enquiry stopping at the turn of independence for its colonies, it may have been valuable to explore the trajectory and re-emergence of this genre25 as well as that of other indigenous art practices that were deemed inferior as craft or kitsch. Indigenous art re-emerged into the modern art practises of the colonies and is continuing to do so in contemporary art whether through materiality (rattan, wayang kulit (shadow puppetry)), technique (aboriginal painting, temple mural painting, batik, miniature painting) or content (myths and legends) and some acknowledgment of this would have made the section on encountering artistic legacies a balanced one. As Rasheed Araeen notes: “The question is no longer only what the 'other' is but also how the 'other' has subverted the very assumptions on which 'otherness' is constructed by dominant culture”.26
Singapore’s pragmatism and acceptance of its colonial past is well documented.27 It is also evident from the statues of Raffles and Queen Victoria displayed around the city and the number of buildings and streets that continue to be named after the Empire’s prominent personalities. Hence, it is no surprise that NGS’ narrative, as a public institution, follows that of the island state’s. However, the marketing and public relations faux pas preceding the exhibition’s opening and the banners and posters advertising the exhibition as a royal event were unnecessary and did not go down well with the general public or the art community. The first section of the exhibition opened well, with the seven contemporary artworks providing a strong counter-view to the historical artworks that mostly reflected the Empire’s viewpoint. However, the second section of the exhibition appeared generally celebratory, highlighting only how the encounter and interaction of the indigenous with the foreign yielded syncretic art practices locally. It failed to convey the consequences of the Empire’s intervention on the classification of traditional art practices, art-making and art education and how these interventions created a (western) divide of high and low art in cultures where such bifurcations had never existed before. NGS has repeatedly emphasised that the purpose of the exhibition was not to cast moral judgement on the past and that “the exhibition is about art rather than history”.28 Even then, and if one can separate history from art, NGS could have expanded the colonies’ narrative beyond the token countering with the contemporary artworks to present an expanded if not alternate viewpoint from the Tate’s. The casting of judgement could then have been left to the viewers. Fifty-one years post-Empire, the exhibition contests colonial legacies only gesturally: it treads too softly and perhaps still fearfully, into the contentious areas of what was, what ensued and what was lost.
Durriya Dohadwala holds an MA in Asian Art Histories from the Goldsmith College, University of London. She is an independent writer on contemporary South and Southeast Asian art and culture and has been working in the area of art appreciation since 2011.
1 Alison Smith et al, Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, London, 2015, p 12
2 ‘Large print room guide for room five’, p 33, available at http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/artist-and-empire/room-guide, accessed 06 February, 2017
3 Jessyca Hutchens, “Ambiguous Narratives: Artist and Empire at Tate Britain”, Third Text, accessed February 04, 2017, http://www.thirdtext.org/hutchens-artist-empire
5 Emilia Terracciano, “Dispelling the Myth of the ‘Positive Legacies’ of Empire,” Third Text, accessed January 15, 2017, http://www.thirdtext.org/dispelling-positive-myth
6 The plaque accompanying it reads: “…presented by the Chinese Community of Singapore in the year of Her Majesty’s Jubilee, to be placed in the Government House as a memorial of the loyal affection of Her Majesty’s Chinese subjects and of their gratitude for the benefit of her Rule.”
7 Huang Lijie, “National Gallery Singapore drops 'empire' theme for its gala”, The Straits Times, last modified September 22, 2016, http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/national-gallery-singapore-drops-empire-theme-for-its-gala.
8 Sze Wee Low, “Art and Perception - Imagining the Empire,” in Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, ed Sze Wee Low, National Gallery Singapore, 2016), p 17
9 Alison Smith, “Exhibiting Empire at Tate Britain,” in Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, ed Sze Wee Low (Singapore: National Gallery Singapore, 2016), p 21
10 Lee Wen’s installation was part of the Artists Investigating Monuments project in 2000
11 Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space was exhibited at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University in 2012. It looks at partitioned nations like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Sudan and South Sudan, Israel and Palestine, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Armenia and its diaspora, and indigenous sovereignty in the United States and explores the continued impact of colonisation, displacement, dilemmas of identity and belonging, and questions of commemoration. The exhibition was curated by Hammad Nasar, Iftikhar Dadi, and Ellen Avril, with assistance from Nada Raza. Iftikhar Dadi discussed the exhibition in his talk on Lines of Control: Borders and Contemporary Art at NGS on January 20, 2017
12 Inscribed on his statue. Paul Gallaghar, “Bristol Torn Apart Over Statue of Edward Colston: But is this a Figure of Shame or a Necessary Monument to the History of Slavery?,” The Independent, accessed February 04, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bristol-torn-apart-over-statue-of-edward-colston-but-is-this-a-figure-of-shame-or-a-necessary-9555333.html
13 Kay Dian Kriz, Slavery, Sugar and the Culture of Refinement: Picturing the British West Indies, 1700-1840, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2008, p 11 as quoted by Martin Myrone, catalogue entry for Agostino Brunias’ Dancing Scene in the West Indies, 1764–96, last modified September 2013, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/brunias-dancing-scene-in-the-west-indies-t13869
14 as part of the British Empire Exhibition to demonstrate how textiles were made
15 Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, ed Sze Wee Low, National Gallery Singapore, 2016, p 110
16 Ibid, 109
17 Khademul Islam, “Our Story of Dhaka Muslin,” AramcoWorld, May/June 2016, accessed January 23, 2017, http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/May-2016/Our-Story-of-Dhaka-Muslin
18 Sze Wee Low, “Art and Perception - Imagining the Empire,” in Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, ed Sze Wee Low, National Gallery Singapore, 2016, p 16
19 Ratan Parimoo, “The Significance of the Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma in Gaekwad Collection, Baroda,” in The Legacy of Raja Ravi Varma the Painter, ed Ratan Parimoo, Maharaja Fatesingh Museum Trust, 1998, p 4
20 Priya Maholay-Jaradi, Fashioning a National Art Baroda's Royal Collection and Art Institutions 1875-1924, Oxford University Press, 2017, p 97
21 The four art and design schools in India were set up as follows: Madras in 1850, Calcutta in 1854, Bombay in 1856, and Lahore in 1875
22 The British believed that the decline of the Indian arts was because of reliance on oral transmission of the visual knowledge of production and that institutionalizing it through the Western system was the only way to prevent its rapid decline. See Nadeem Omar Tarar, “From ‘Primitive’ Artisans to ‘Modern’ Craftsmen: Colonialism, Culture, and Art Education in the Late Nineteenth-Century Punjab,” South Asian Studies 27, no 2, 2011.
23 Mahrukh Tarapor, “John Lockwood Kipling and British Art Education in India,” Victorian Studies 24, no 1, 1980, p 61, accessed February 10, 2017, www.jstor.org/stable/3826879
24 Mary Ann Stankiewicz, “Constructing an International History of Art Education: Periods, Patterns, and Principles,” International Journal of Arts Education, 7, no 1, 2009, p 8, accessed February 09, 2017, http://maryannstankiewicz.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Constructing-International-History-of-Art-Education.pdf
25 The Mayo School of Art was renamed the National College of Arts in 1958 with three main areas of focus: Fine Arts, Design and Architecture. The lasting legacy of the British art education system is apparent in that the college remained under the Ministry of Industries until 1963 when it was recognised as a centre of premier art education and brought under the Ministry of Education.
26 Miniature painting’s contemporaneity is largely attributed to Zahoor ul Akhlaq (artist, professor, and department head at NCA), who in the 70s, while studying at the Royal College of Arts, had the opportunity to view the miniature collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Upon his return to Pakistan, he appropriated miniature techniques and content into his work and proposed that miniature painting investigate the traditional art form and its two-dimensional structure with the materials and innovations that were in vogue with the modernist artists in Europe and Pakistan at that time.
27 Rasheed Araeen, “Our Bauhaus others’ Mudhouse,” Third Text 3, no. 6, 1998, p 3, DOI: 10.1080/09528828908576208
28 see Sze Wee Low, “Art and Perception - Imagining the Empire,” in Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, ed. Sze Wee Low, National Gallery Singapore, 2016, p 10 for an account of Singapore’s outlook on the Empire
29 Ibid, 17