Photograpy, India, Portraits, Anglo Indians, Family and me

Exhibition talk with Coventry University photography students

Artist Jason Scott Tilley discusses his body of work “People of India”

Artist Jason Scott Tilley, who has been artist in residence at Coventry University, discusses his body of work “The people of India” currently showing at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry.

Cited influences: Edward Curtis, Irving Penn & August Sander

Suggested reading: Pinney C. (1997) Camera Indica, Chicago

Embers; a poem by David Hurt


Tired eyes,

searching for sustenance and shelter,

searching for warmth from generous passers by,

which are few and far between.

Warmth, from blanket or shawl,

or the flicker of tinder’s of a golden flame.

Distant eyes, searching for meaning,

hope, a life beyond a world seemed lost,

a life where hardship isn’t a burden, but rewarded,

full of possibilities and prosperity.

Happy eyes; A glow with dreams untouchable,

but dreams that fulfil a moment To make them smile…

Genuinely moved that David from The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum wrote this poem in response to my People of India exhibition. Thank you David. I have chosen this portrait taken in Kolkata to accompany it.

People of India exhibition The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum Coventry

People of India exhibition1LRFinally after all of this time and hard work by so many people my exhibition is up at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. I’d love to say it was all my work but that would not be true. Thank you Pete James Curator of photographs at The Library of Birmingham and to the team at the Hebert with a huge thanks to Curator Rosie Addenbrooke.

Poeple of India exhibition 2014LR

Not The End!



Grandpas tour to photograph in Simla 1947

To add a little more to Grandpa’s story I enclose a letter written to me from Derek Boddington who I have now had the pleasure of speaking with.

Mountbatten Shimla tour copy

Hi Jason,

Many thanks for the photo and for the link.

The photo was taken immediately after the Trooping of the Colour and Centenary parade on 7th October 1947. Customarily at the end of every ceremonial parade, members of the school Staff are introduced to the Presiding Officer and members of his party. It’s a nice picture and of course, I recognize everyone in it. I’m sure my usual visitors and old school friends will be pleased to see it. Your Grandpa’s account of the occasion is accurate and corresponds with mine, (see my earlier email) – except that he has confused the Lovedale school title with ours,  (probably because, coming from the south of India he would have been more familiar with Lovedale.  Sanawar was founded during Lawrence’s lifetime, whereas Lovedale and Ghora Gali were established as memorial schools, after his death in Lucknow, in 1857).

Have you checked out the image numbers I sent you? I’m fairly certain they are all PR photos, but I no longer have access to the prints so I can’t say who took them. They were all 1947, so it has to be either Sharma or your Grandad. I’m also pretty certain that your Grandpa accompanied the CGS General Sir Arthur Smith on his visit to Sanawar for Founder’s Day in 1946. I will look through my files to see what else I can find.

Thanks too for the links to your blog, all of which I found most interesting.  My mother’s folk are also from the south, (Malabar) and our Eurasian link is Anglo-Indian and Indo-Dutch, (Confusing)!  I have been researching my family history since 1999 and also have a genealogy site with the same hosts, (Rootsweb).  It is down for maintenance just now, but I’ll let you know when it’s up again. You’d be very welcome to visit.

Best wishes,


The Lawrence Military Academy at partition (Simla)

I have been spending quite some time recently, reengaging with my Grandpa Bert Scott’s work. I’ve been editing, sequencing, trying my best alongside  curator Rosie Addenbrooke from The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum Coventry chose the photographs that tell the story of my family’s life in India on the run up to partition and beyond.

There is one image I am very familiar with, it’s a group shot taken in late August in Simla just after partition 1947 which features Earl and Lady Mountbatten at the closing of The Lawrence Royal Military School Sanawar high in the Simla hills prior to the handing over to the Indian school services.

Group with Mountbattens1947partition


As a matter of cause I googled some of the details Grandpa had written on the back of the print which led me to a rather interesting blog about the schools history collated in photographs by Derek Boddington.

What amazed me is that within the many pages of images was a copy of one of my Grandpas photographs, now it was in-correctly accredited to Mr Sharma courtesy of a Mr Ron Bailey. I have no idea who Mr Sharma is at this stage or Mr Ron Bailey but what really excites me is that there are obviously other copies of my Grandpa’s photographs still out there and yet to be found.

Exciting times.

Sun glass reading glass

I recently heard from a friend that ‘Ahmed’ the man famous for selling ‘fake’ designer Sun glasses to foreign tourists along the south Indian coastline of Kerala had sadly died. His call of Suuun glassss reeeeading glass reverberated around the seaside resort of Kovalam and beyond for many years. I had the pleasure of taking lunch break with him on occasion; songs were even written about him which the late John Peel played on BBC radio. What a character Kovalam & India will not seem the same with out you.000015180003

Galli Magazine Visual Narratives from India

The manual worker Varkala Kerala 2006

The manual worker Varkala Kerala 2006

Pig House Pictures a Falmouth University publication

The Wedding Band man

The Wedding Band man New Delhi 2004

From The New York Daily News 19/12/2013

Marguerite Mumford Bombay 1936

Marguerite Mumford Bombay 1936


Grandpa back at school Bangalore

From the very start of this project in November 1999 in terms of distance I’ve travelled a very long way. In terms of an education and the many emotional traumas I have experienced along the way I think I’ve travelled even further. First Grandpa died whilst I was in Kerala South India, then Nan died last year and just four months ago we lost my father. My longing to be back in India has never been stronger.

Of cause at the moment I have a little boy who I adore being with and he is the only thing that stops me from packing my bags a leaving. He is the only reason for me being here.

Grandpa would have loved Max. This is a portrait taken of Grandpa sitting on the wall at Bishop cottons school Bangalore As I look back it was such a happy time.